Twenty-four years old, coming into his prime, flying high in La Liga and vying to be the best player of his generation in his country. Career-wise there is only one thing missing for Carlos Vela right now, but murmurings of a detente between the Real Sociedad player and Mexican soccer federation (FMF) were wide of the mark. Vela was not named in Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers and next month’s Confederations Cup.
It is an obvious blow in the short term. With Mexico struggling in World Cup qualification, a returning Vela could’ve provided that magic to spark the campaign into life. The possibility of Javier Hernandez, Vela, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado all playing together is a mouthwatering one, especially with the form that Vela is in.
But over the longer term, the significance of this latest snub from Vela could be the final, definitive blow in the long, drawn-out saga. If he doesn’t come back now with such an important tournament as the Confederations Cup coming up, when will it happen?
The longer this soap opera goes on, the more difficult it becomes to bring Vela in and the chances of him going to the World Cup in 2014 become more and more slim. In other words, Vela hasn’t remained on the outside to make a point and come back for the glory games and big tournament. The problem obviously runs much deeper, as it is difficult to imagine a player not being desperate to feature in such big tournaments as the World Cup and the Confederations Cup. Such events are the highlight of most players’ careers.
It is increasingly clear that only a regime change in the FMF would pave the way for Vela’s return, but the federation is generally considered to be doing an excellent job, especially in terms of youth development.
You can make the argument that Vela refusing the Olympic call last year was entirely rational. The former Chivas player was at a vitally important moment in a club career that had spluttered along rather than purred. But now, Vela is well established in Spain, is an important player for Real Sociedad, and can’t make the same claims.
It has been obvious that there was a major issue between Vela and the FMF, stemming initially from that fateful “party” in Monterrey after El Tri had defeated Colombia 1-0 in September 2010. Vela and Efrain Juarez were banned for six months, exposed as the ringleaders of the event and left to suffer the heavy press reaction.
What has happened since and the conversations with the player have been kept under wraps, but either Vela is being cripplingly stubborn or something even more serious than is commonly known has occurred.
Whatever it is, there is no winner. El Tri, Vela and Mexico fans are all worse off heading towards an important summer.
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