A leading member of the so-called “Golden Generation” that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2005, Carlos Vela signed for Arsenal almost as soon as the tournament was over.
The pacy striker had to wait before making his debut with the Gunners, however, his lack of a work permit forcing him to gain experience in Spain in a series of loan moves, the first of them to Celta Vigo, then in the First Division. In 2006 he dropped down a flight to link up with Salamanca, before returning to La Liga with Osasuna.
His luckless stay with Celta aside, Vela enjoyed plenty of success in Spain and returned to Arsenal looking to continue his development. However, he has yet to make the impact he would have hoped for with the Londoners, his appearances so far having been mainly restricted to the League Cup and FA Cup and the occasional introduction from the bench in the league and UEFA Champions League.
He has fared much better with the national side in the meantime. One of the jewels of Mexico’s youth teams, he has gradually become a valued member of the senior set-up. With 20 international matches already under his belt, he has scored several important goals, including one in the final of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup against USA.
Comfortable with the ball at his feet and blessed with a sharp change of pace, Vela carries plenty of threat up front. As an impact substitute, he also has the ability to unsettle tiring defences. Yet to get a regular run in the Mexico side, he nevertheless has the weaponry to succeed at the highest level and is sure to feature in Javier Aguirre’s plans in South Africa.