Carlos Vela will aim to show English football what it has missed out on when Real Sociedad visit Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Mexican forward after he was the top scorer at the 2005 U-17 World Cup. This was followed by a scramble to sign him; a race which Arsenal ultimately won.
He was unable to obtain a work permit for three years, but showed flashes of his promise again when he scored a hat trick on his full debut in 2008. Over the next two years, Vela impressed in the domestic cups, but had limited Premier League appearances.
Vela's opponent in Wednesday's encounter, Robin van Persie, took the Mexican under his wing when they were both in North London. "We used to sit next to each other in the dressing room and talk. I used to ask him about his movement, what was going through his mind when he did certain things, and he would explain," Vela said of the Dutchman ahead of their clash tonight. Vela was given van Persie's number 11 shirt in 2010, but failed to put a string of games together and grew frustrated at his lack of opportunities.
The Mexican moved to Real Sociedad on loan in pursuit of first team football. He enjoyed playing regularly in La Liga and openly said in February 2012: "I don't want to return to Arsenal. I have asked my agent to negotiate with Arsenal to stay here."
Vela got his wish and has since been in impressive form for Real Socieded, scoring twelve goals in his first full season for the club, which helped them qualify for the Champions League for the first time in ten years. He will relish the chance to showcase his fulfilled potential at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.
Watch Vela's Champions League wonder goal against Lyon in August 2013, below...
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