Whilst Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been an inspired piece of business from Arsenal, it took them an awful long time to really replace Thierry Henry.
The likes of Marouane Chamakh and Yaya Sanogo, who scored 15 goals between them in 87 appearances, failed to make much of an impression and, although Olivier Giroud scored 105 goals in 253 matches, he was still not on the same level as the club’s record goalscorer.
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Carlos Vela was another forward who featured for the side following the sale of Henry to Barcelona, but it is elsewhere where he has particularly flourished.
Let’s take a look at how his career has played out since leaving north London…
The Gunners paid a rather large fee of £2.7m – as per Transfermarkt – to sign Vela as a 17-year-old in 2006, six months before they lost in the Champions League final against Barcelona. His first forays into professional football in Europe were with UD Salamanca and Celta Vigo, with him making 33 appearances in one season for the latter.
For Arsenal, he never really got going, scoring just 11 goals in 64 matches, being utilised primarily by Arsene Wenger as a striker.
In all fairness, he never played more than 14 Premier League games in a campaign, although he failed to show he really deserved more time on the field. After two strikes in eight matches for West Brom, he was shipped out on loan to Real Sociedad in La Liga.
The change of country appeared to reinvigorate him. In the 2011/12 campaign, he made 37 appearances in all competitions for the Basque outfit, scoring 12 goals and providing seven assists. That was enough to convince them to part with £12.6m to sign him – as per Transfermarkt – and he would prove to be well worth the outlay.
Over the next six years, he would end up becoming a Sociedad legend. The 13/14 campaign saw him score 14 and provide 11 assists in 35 league matches, whilst he managed 16 and 12 in 37 in the next season respectively – he scored 21 in all competitions that season, his highest return. He failed to match those heights from then on, but by the time he moved on to Los Angeles FC in 2018, he had scored 73 and provided 44 assists in 250 matches.
In the MLS, he is arguably the best player right now.
He was the league’s top scorer last season with 32 goals, and he has managed 57 strikes in 71 matches for his new club.
For Mexico, he has 19 goals in 72 matches, has won the Gold Cup twice and has featured at two World Cups. Whilst he may have failed to produce that form at Arsenal, perhaps Wenger should have been a tad more patient with him before moving on – and maybe they should have re-signed him when they had the chance.