Colorado Rapids would have first crack at Carlos Vela, say sources
Thanks to Major League Soccer's discovery process, the Colorado Rapids would have the right of first refusal on Real Sociedad forward Carlos Vela, should he decide to leave his current club, multiple sources have told ESPNFC.com.
The Chicago Fire would be next in the queue should the Rapids pass on the Mexico international, the sources said.
Madrid-based outlet El Confidencial speculated on Thursday that Vela has already asked Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay to release him in the January transfer window with the Fire or the San Jose Earthquakes his likely destination.
Vela had previously acknowledged having received an offer from MLS.
A league source indicated that when it comes to bringing Vela to MLS, the two sides are still "far apart" but confirmed that MLS is working towards bringing Vela over in early 2016, and that more would be known in the coming weeks.
As for where Vela might end up, there is considerably more uncertainty. One source with knowledge of San Jose's thinking told ESPNFC.com via text message that the link between the Quakes and Vela is "not true at all" and added, "Nothing is happening [with Vela]; no contact, no talk, nada."
The question of whether Colorado is willing to pony up the funds needed to land Vela remains open, but Rapids GM Paul Bravo confirmed that the club is interested in the player.
After years of rarely venturing into the Designated Player market, Colorado signed Argentine midfielder Juan Ramirez as well as Ireland international forward Kevin Doyle to DP deals this season. The only previous Designated Player was Gabriel Torres, whose salary was later bought down so as to no longer count as a DP.
According to the MLS Players Union, Doyle's guaranteed compensation is $1.17 million per year, but Vela's salary is expected to be much higher than that.
If Colorado decides it no longer is interested in Vela, or if the forward decides he would prefer to play elsewhere, it could either trade away the player's rights in exchange for assets -- much like Chicago did earlier this year when it sent Didier Droba's rights to the Montreal Impact in exchange for allocation money -- or simply pass and allow the Fire to sign the Mexico international.
Given how Chicago missed out on both Jermaine Jones and Drogba, landing Vela would amount to a huge boost. With Kennedy Igboananike no longer listed as a Designated Player, Chicago would have the requisite room on its roster to bring Vela aboard. That said, the Fire's focus is currently on hiring a permanent head coach to replace Frank Yallop, who was dismissed last month.
It was back in 2005 that Vela, 26, signed with Arsenal, whose majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, owns the Rapids. Vela then went out on a series of loans before settling with La Real in 2011, with his transfer made complete in 2012.
In his time with Real Sociedad, Vela has tallied 57 times in 166 league and cup appearances. He has scored 14 goals in 47 appearances for Mexico's national team.