Carlos Vela admits he wasn’t ready to join Arsenal when he did, and it put a mental strain on him as such a young player.
Carlos Vela joined Arsenal in 2005 when he was just 16 years old. He made 62 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions but never established himself in the Premier League.
The striker went on to have much more success with Real Sociedad in Spain and LAFC in the MLS, making himself a key player for both teams. He also made 72 appearances for Mexico, though he hasn’t played for them since 2018.
So why didn’t it work out with Arsenal? Vela thinks he just made the jump too soon.
“Before the 2005 World Cup, I was just a young man following his dreams trying to reach the First Division in Mexico and do something good in soccer,” Vela told the Inside LAFC podcast (via Arsenal-Mania).
“But after that, I went to London, to sign for Arsenal. I was not ready for that, everything was too fast, and I was very young. It was a very difficult moment for me.
“I would not say that it was a moment of great pressure, but mentally you are not prepared for so much.”
Gunners scout Francis Cagigao recently told The Athletic Vela had “100 per cent of the talent, 0 per cent of the attitude”. That was his assessment after watching the player on loan with Celta Vigo – when his parent club was still Arsenal.
Thankfully, it doesn’t seem like Vela is going to take too much offence to that. He explains that his mistake was thinking he could do everything after that move to Arsenal.
“When you start you feel that you are the best and that you can do everything and nobody can tell you anything, that was the first mistake I made,” Vela admits. “Over the years I became a better person and a better player.”
Vela won the first major club honours of his career last year, lifting the Supporters’ Shield with LAFC. He also won the Golden Boot, the MVP Award and multiple Player of the Month awards.
The striker kicked off the new campaign with four goals in four games, qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-finals. The attitude problems are behind him, now he just has to hope football returns in time to complete the competition.