Here we go again. Just when you thought no more drama, or pressure, could be added to LAFC ahead of the 2022 season, star forward Carlos Vela hits us with something that made us go, hmmm. The biggest story for most of last season, aside from the team’s struggles to find the win column on a consistent basis, was the contract status of Carlos Vela. It seems this season will be no different in that regard.
After a relatively quiet preseason from the star forward — in terms of speaking to the media — he appeared on Thursday ahead to answer a few questions ahead of the new season. “Every start of the season is a good opportunity to start well. Good atmosphere, good attitude, everybody is ready, fit, and healthy. I think the group is ready” he said in regards to the start of the new campaign.
Of course, it didn't take long before the questions surrounding his contract status came up. If you remember, this was a major conversation almost all of last season, despite the club making it clear from the off-set they were going to pick up his option, keeping him in the black-and-gold for at least another few months.
However, that option comes to an end in the summer, meaning Vela could leave in the middle of the season, unless a new deal is made. Luckily for the fans and the club, the cloud of uncertainty isn't something Carlos views as a distraction.
“Maybe when you're young, you can have more distractions, or you have more things in your head, but when you're older and more experienced you know how sports are,” Vela said. “It’s a business too. In my mind, I'm just going to be ready for this month. I’m not thinking about the year because I don't have that year here” he said.
“I will work hard to do my best at the start of the season, for the four or five months I have left on my contract, and enjoy every single game because who knows where I will be in six months.”
With age, comes wisdom, or so they say. For Vela, it brings a sense of being content with his situation. He understands he can only control what’s in his hands, which is putting in the work to return to that prolific goalscorer status he had a couple of years ago, and remaining healthy for the duration of the season.
While there are many whispers as to why a deal hasn't been struck yet, Vela made it clear what he wants out of a contract, out of a playing location, at this point in his life.
“I want to be happy. I look for a place my family can be good, a place where they want me, where they trust in me, and the rest will be simple. Of course after, the numbers and all that stuff but if two parties want the same thing, then everything can work. I’m just focused on myself, doing my best, and the rest will come,” he said.
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit, and what you'll likely hear about a lot over the next few days and into the season, was the revelation that an offer from the club hasn't even been made yet, according to Vela. When asked if he would like to retire in the black-and-gold, Vela expressed the desire to, but said it wasn't ultimately in his hands. “If it’s a good option for me, yes. I’m happy, I love to play in LA, love to play in The Banc with our fans. I think they love me, at least they show me that every time I step on the field, so of course it's an option but it’s not in my hands. I'm waiting for the offer from the club, if they don't give a good thing, I know it’s business and we will move forward. If we’re going in the same direction I'm more than happy to be here, if not, no problem.”
It’s that line that sticks out the most, “I’m waiting on the offer from the club.” Of course this could mean one of two things, either the club have yet to extend an official offer to keep Carlos Vela, despite being very vocal about wanting to keep him, or they offered him something so bad, he doesn't even consider it worth negotiating over. Either of those options isn't too good for those that want him to stay past the summer. As Vela said, this is a business, and from the club’s perspective, it may be good business to wait. He has dealt with nagging injuries the last two seasons and we haven't seen him ‘at his best’ since the record-smashing 2019 season. Add to all that the arrival of 26-year-old Chicho Arango, who netted a whopping 14 goals in just 17 matches, and there's some reason for the club to want to wait before committing any further to their inaugural signing.
Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear, as far as Vela is concerned, negotiations have yet to begun. While he appears ready, and willing, to give his all to the black-and-gold for the duration he has left here, he was not shy about letting us all know this is a business. Content in his choices, and ready for whatever the future holds. Whether that future is hoisting the MLS Cup as a member of LAFC, or returning to Europe in the summer, is yet to be seen. For now, all we can do is watch, and wait, for the club to make that offer.
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