The idea that Carlos Vela is on his way to MLS has been gathering momentum for a while, but it hasn't looked like an event destined to impact the New York Red Bulls - until now. Reporting for Milenio, Jesus Hernandez Tellez offers three pieces of news on the long-rumored Vela-to-MLS deal: it's happening; it'll be worth about $8 million a season to Vela; and the front-runners for his services are Chicago Fire (makes sense), San Jose Earthquakes (sure, why not?), and RBNY (wait, what?).
The report says the deal could be concluded as soon as this Sunday - and it would seem fair to expect more news on the subject in the interim, as beat reporters across MLS furiously seek to verify the story - so we won't have too long to wait to see what actually happens.
There isn't much disputing the claim that Vela might move to MLS: it has long been reported that he is interested. Only yesterday, he was being linked to Colorado. A salary of $8 million is high, and quite possibly inflated (we are, after all, talking about a negotiation apparently still in progress), but not outside the realm of possibility. This is the Giovinco era of MLS salaries. And one does not discount a rumor based on the salary information disclosed, since that is the information all sides in the negotiations have some incentive to exaggerate.
As for the clubs named, the Chicago Fire is in the midst of reshaping itself after several years of trying and failing to recapture its status as one of the more successful clubs in MLS. A recognizable, marketable talent is expected - Vela is as good a name as any. And if there is a team in the league that might be inclined to throw $8 million at a Mexican soccer star, one would not be surprised to learn it is Chicago.
San Jose seems more of a stretch, largely because the $8 million wage reported would be at the very highest tier of current MLS salaries, and the Quakes historically haven't been inclined to spend their money that way. Times can change, of course. And again, the reported salary more likely represents the amount someone in the deal would like to see agreed upon, rather than the outcome of whatever negotiations are apparently still in progress.
RBNY is an unexpected name to hear linked to Vela: he's a top-tier star, and the club's new identity hews closely to that of its European sibling clubs. Under Ralf Rangnick and RalfBall, the team-building philosophy is clear: "no soloists". For an MLS club, investing $8 million in a player means that player has to play - and the team pretty much has to be built around him. That approach is supposedly consigned to the past at Red Bull Arena. The team is the star, and the players selected will be picked for their suitability to the system in place. No one is getting picked on reputation; the playing style is more important than any one player.
But RalfBall is not against signing good players who will expect to start every game. Over in Leipzig, the Red Bull club has picked up a number of elite young talents around whom it has modeled the 2015 lineup - Davie Selke, a 20-year-old star of the Germany's youth international teams being merely foremost among them. Vela is 26, so he has a few years left to play, and it is conceivable that an MLS club paying him $8 million a year might yet recoup that investment: if he is successful, his star won't shine any brighter than in North America; and if he is successful, he might yet command a reasonable transfer fee if he ultimately moves back home to Mexico or has another crack at European club soccer.
On balance, RBNY seems the least likely of the candidates mentioned in the Milenio report. But the Red Bulls have been mentioned in connection with Carlos Vela, and improbable does not mean impossible. He's a very good soccer player, and that recommends him to any soccer team with the resources to acquire him: RBNY certainly has those resources.
For OaM, the fact the Red Bulls could likely afford to sign Vela is the only reason to believe in this rumor - and not a particularly convincing one. But we don't run RBNY. We'll see what news the rumor mill next brings us on the subject of Carlos Vela's future.