Barcelona were looking for a mid-season addition to boost their attacking ranks last winter and were interested in Vela, but went with ex-Ghana star Kevin-Prince Boateng instead due to issues in convincing LAFC to give up their man.
Even though he missed out once, Vela would be interested in that opportunity should it come up again, citing the chance to play alongside and learn from Lionel Messi as the major appeal.
“Who could say no to playing with Messi for four months and then come back to LA? Enjoy, learn and then come back home,” Vela told the New York Times this week.
A four-month loan in January would take Vela, who previously starred for Real Sociedad before making the switch stateside, to the end of the Spanish season. Presumably, that means he would have to miss pre-season with LAFC and the start of the 2020 MLS campaign.
For the experience he would gain, even at the age of 30, and bring back to his teammates in California, it might be worth it from the Los Angeles perspective.
For Barcelona, if they were interested, they would be getting a proven La Liga player. Whether they would need him or not remains to be seen. Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann has been coach Ernesto Valverde’s preferred front three of late, with Ousmane Dembele, Carles Perez and 16-year-old Ansu Fati waiting in the wings for chances to come their way.
Vela has been in the form of his life in 2019. The Mexico international has netted 34 times for LAFC, breaking the single season MLS goal record set just last year by Atlanta’s Josef Martinez.
With Vela in such form, LAFC finished top of the regular season MLS standings to claim the Supporters’ Shield and are now looking to go all the way in the playoffs to take the MLS Cup.
A Western Conference final against 2016 champions Seattle Sounders awaits after overcoming city rivals LA Galaxy in the semi-finals just this week. Win that and they reach a first ever MLS Cup final against either reigning 2018 champions Atlanta United or 2017 champions Toronto FC.