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Carlos Vela gives first public comments on rumored Barcelona interest

LAFC star doesn’t say he’s leaving, but doesn’t reject interest, either.

MLS: Los Angeles FC at Colorado Rapids Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The biggest story of 2019 MLS Media Day, at least for the print and online journalists, was the player who didn’t show up.

Los Angeles Football Club forward Carlos Vela, originally scheduled to speak to reporters in LA, was said to be unavailable during his slot, and in spite of talk of alternate availability, that never materialized.

Vela was linked last week to a shock move to Spanish giant FC Barcelona, shocking both for the team interested in Vela as well as said interest coming at this point in the 29-year-old’s career, after making the move away from Spain to play in MLS. That’s not to say Vela isn’t a quality player, and in some ways a move would certainly make sense for him. But it was hard to know if the interest was legitimate or manufactured tabloid fodder in Spain.

The reports have rumbled on, however. On Friday, Vela was said to be a backup option for Barcelona in case another forward option’s move does not materialize, and it would be a loan deal for the rest of the 2017-18 season.

On Saturday, after Vela’s media session was canceled, ESPN Deportes reported that Barcelona never actually submitted a bid for Vela to LAFC, and reports that a loan agreement had been reached was completely off base.

Maybe it was all a mirage? Vela himself finally weighed in publicly, in videos released on Sunday.

He told ESPN a cryptic, “It’s all good,” with a smile.

But in a video with Univision, he gave a more robust response.

To paraphrase, Vela said here it was a good sign he’s drawing interest, the objective of a player is to play his best and to be linked to a big club is positive.

He said he’s focused on working hard, playing well and being a leader, presumably for LAFC. While acknowledging it’s hard to talk about a situation like this, Vela explained it was up to the teams and agents to come to a decision, and he’ll just do his job and see what happens.

What he does not do is reject interest in going to Barcelona. You can’t exactly blame him, truly. I can’t think of any players, save maybe Real Madrid diehards, who would reject a potential move there, let’s be real. But here he does not say anything outright like “I want to leave LAFC.”

Of course, it’s unclear whether Barcelona have truly moved on from their rumored pursuit of Vela or not. If they have, then all of this is a tempest in a teacup. If they haven’t, then the player himself does not seem to reject the approach. Again, it’s hard to say what will happen, but we’ll see if LAFC’s biggest star is going to be moving to one of the world’s biggest clubs or not. Stay tuned.

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