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Real Sociedad finally get their man as Vela lands in San Sebastian
- Updated: 19 July, 2012
Despite a bumpy ride under Frenchman Phillipe Montanier last season, Real Sociedad finished comfortably in midtable and are now looking to add some more flair to their team.
Antoine Griezmann looks like he’ll be staying in San Sebastian over the summer, whilst Mallorca’s Uruguayan winger Gonzalo ‘Chori’ Castro has been added to play on the other flank. Montanier’s side scored just 46 goals last season and he’s clearly looking to progress further by becoming a more expansive and creative side.
Imanol Agirretxe’s 10 goals were important in la Real’s survival last year, but the real key was Arsenal loanee Carlos Vela. The Mexican is no stranger to La Liga, having spent loan spells with Salamanca and Osasuna in his teenage years. But when he struggled to break into Arsenal’s first team and endured an unspectacular stint at West Bromwich Albion, Vela decided that the time was right to return to Spain for a year’s loan.
The 23-year-old’s 12 goals made him the Basque side’s top scorer last term, while he also contributed a more-than respectable seven assists. The problem for la Real was he was only there until the end of the season. Vela had enhanced his reputation during his temporary move to Anoeta, meaning “bigger” and more attractive teams were interested in signing him from Arsenal, who had signed Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski further pushing Vela down the pecking order. The Mexican publicly announced his intention to leave Arsenal this summer, although nobody knew his ultimate destination.
However this week, after prolonged talks, Real Sociedad managed to agree a reported £3.2m deal for Vela, securing his future there for the next four years.
It’s hard to really express how key this is to the clubs hopes next season. Boss Montanier built a good reputation during his time at French side Valenciennes and was expected to continue that good work in Spain. Unfortunately, his new club started the season in atrocious form, leaving Montanier’s head on the chopping block before he had even had time to settle.
A run of eight games without a win led to rumours of Montanier being given one game to save his job – fortunately for the Frenchman, his team beat Real Betis 3-2 with a stunning last minute strike from Inigo Martinez. From then on, la Real blew hot and cold, although just two defeats in their final 10 games will have given Montanier the belief that they can improve next season – and Vela will once again be the key.
The Cancun-born striker enjoyed a blistering run of form in the second half of the season – two goals before New year were followed by 10 in a fantastic second half of the campaign. The Mexican is quick and skilful, but we has also seen his finishing improve.
Vela took players on last season and kept his composure to score some sublime goals with some instinctive finishing – see his overhead kick against Malaga as proof to this. However Vela offers much more than just goals. His seven assists tied him with La Liga stars such as Xavi, Kaka and Karim Benzema in 14th place in the rankings and also made him his club’s leader on both the assist and scoring front.
With the recently-arrived Chori Castro now set to provide even more ammunition in a team that still contains the talented Xabi Prieto, could we see Vela improve on this season’s goal tally? Montanier will certainly be hoping so, as he enters the final year of his contract.
Securing Vela on a permanent deal is certainly a huge bonus for the Frenchman and is sure to offer a huge amount of confidence before the season he has even begun.
Keep your eye on Vela this season as la Real look to usurp Athletic as the Basque Country’s top club.Follow @icentrocampista