MLS Today

Is Europe or Miami next for LAFC star Carlos Vela?

Carlos Vela was LAFC’s first-ever signing ahead of their 2018 entry as an MLS expansion team, and now his final Black & Gold chapter could be on the horizon.

TUDN’s ​​Michele Giannone dropped that possibility during Tuesday’s debut of the MLS Today Show, a daily Twitter Spaces discussion of the latest around MLS, when talking with host David Gass.

Referencing a conversation with someone close to Vela’s camp, Giannone reported that the 2022 campaign will be the Mexican star’s last one in an LAFC uniform. And a return to Europe or future in Miami are in the cards, Giannone said.

“No matter what happens this year, and let me preface this with Vela is all-in and he wants to leave as a champion, this is going to be the last year of Carlos Vela in Los Angeles,” Giannone said of the 32-year-old forward. “It doesn’t matter what happens. He wants to come back to Europe.”

When Vela joined LAFC, he arrived after lengthy stays with Premier League side Arsenal and La Liga’s Real Sociedad. That set the stage for a storied Mexican national team career, which stands at 19 goals through 72 caps, including time at the 2010 and 2018 FIFA World Cups.

As enticing as another foray to the Old Continent is, life in South Florida could reportedly be another option. It remains to be seen if that’d mean playing for Inter Miami CF, who are undergoing a roster transformation under sporting director Chris Henderson.

“I was told, from a person very close to his camp, that if Europe doesn’t pan out – and he really wants to go – a city they might, or they want to live [in] and raise their kid and move forward … it’s Miami,” Giannone said. “So you guys do whatever you want to do with that. I was told Europe number one, living in Miami number two.”

Speculation surrounded Vela as the 2021 season wound down, though LAFC announced Dec. 1 that his contract option was exercised. Now, he projects as a centerpiece under new head coach Steve Cherunoldo amid the Black & Gold’s own busy offseason, one chock-full of intra-league additions.

When healthy, Vela’s time in LAFC has been nothing short of extraordinary. He’s the author of MLS’ single-greatest individual season, earning 2019 Landon Donovan MLS MVP honors behind a 34-goal, 15-assist output in 31 matches.

Vela, alongside midfielder Latif Blessing, is the last remaining piece of LAFC’s initial seasons that took MLS by storm under now-Toronto FC manager Bob Bradley. And when it could concludes, be it a half-decade journey or longer, he’d surely be a legend for his pioneering role.

“It would be cool to see Vela go back to Europe and just show the level he’s still at,” Gass said. “I can’t even imagine him playing in MLS for another team, but also it’s Carlos Vela and he’s sort of always done whatever he wants and it hasn’t always followed the track that everyone expects.”

For more from the MLS Today Show, check out the recording here.