Thursday, July 17, 2008

NEWCOMERS can't wait to start

After three-years waiting for the chance, Carlos Vela has his sights set on fulfilling his dreams of earning a first-team place at Arsenal in the new season.


The former golden boot winner of the 2005 Under-17 World Cup after interest from a host of European clubs, signed for the Gunners later that year.

However, as a non-EU citizen, British work permit regulations prevented him from linking up with Arsene Wenger's squad on a full-time basis.

He spent time on loan in Spain with Celta Viga, Salamanca and Osasuna gaining experience of European football but, having been granted a permit earlier this year, he now has Arsenal's number 12 shirt and a guaranteed chance of proving himself in England next season.

And, having waited so long to make his debut for the London side, it is one he is eager to capitalise on.

"I am very proud to finally be here and I am truly very happy," he told the club's official website. "I have been waiting three years for this moment and now I am here I will work very hard to earn my place in the first-team and I hope to be at this club for a very long time.


"The players have received me very well and been very welcoming. Of course, it takes a few days to get used to everything new but, little by little, I will find my place and be ready to perform for the team."

Vela, 19, insists his time in the Primera Liga has been beneficial and believes he has learnt a lot from his experiences in Spain.

He was involved in a relegation battle with Osasuna last term - one which the side eventually won - and, although he is unlikely to find himself in that situation with the Gunners, Vela is glad to have faced that level of adversity and triumphed.


"It has helped me," he said. "First of all it taught me what it was like being away from your home country - that helped me grow up as a person and as a player.


"I think that the Spanish and English style of football is the best in the world. I think also that playing against the best players in the world can only help me grow as a player.

"Yes to be honest the (Osasuna) team wasn't the strongest in the division but it is in that kind of situation you learn more. The whole experience was a big lesson for me. But I hope that this season we can be fighting to win the league.


"I think that I achieved the targets I had there because I had more minutes on the pitch, gained more experience and today I am here at Arsenal, which was the ultimate aim."

Like England international Theo Walcott, another a hotly-tipped but callow teenager when he signed for Arsenal, the Mexican can play out wide or as a striker.

His time in La Liga was predominantly spent on the flank but Wenger is known to rate the youngster's chances of succeeding in a more central role.

Vela would not be drawn on that. "The manager hasn't said anything to me about that yet," he added.

"But it isn't a problem for me as Arsene Wenger can judge for himself what position is best for me to play. It is good to have the option of playing in both positions in case of injuries or if a player is missing.


"Above anything else I just want to play in the first team, it doesn't matter what position."

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