Carlos Vela, LAFC
Carlos Vela is the all-time top scorer in LAFC history, scoring 93 goals in 188 games in all comps. Via LAFC @LAFC on X/Twitter

SEATTLE - All good things come to an end, and for Carlos Vela and LAFC, that phrase might become a reality as none of the parties have reached an agreement that would keep the captain of the club in Los Angeles beyond the 2024.

During 2022, LAFC and the Mexican forward reached an agreement that would see Vela stay with the team until the end of the 2023 season. With just a couple of weeks left before the start of the 2024 MLS season, it is still unclear if the Mexican star will play for LAFC again.

Vela was the first signing in the history of LAFC, joining the expansion MLS team in 2018 and, since then, has not stopped on collecting personal and team accolades during his 6-year adventure in Los Angeles. "Los Angeles is a special place for me and my family. This is our home, and I am excited to continue my career here at LAFC," Vela said during the announcement of his latest contract extension with the team in 2022.

Vela hit the ground running when he first arrived to MLS, scoring double-figure goals in league play in his first season. In 2019, he had -arguably- the single-best season in league history, finishing with a record 34 goals along with 15 assists. He earned MLS MVP honors that year as well as the Golden Boot, making him one of 12 players in league history to be the recipients of both awards in the same season.

Carlos Vela, LAFC
Carlos Vela is one of 12 players in MLS history to be named MLS MVP and MLS Golden Boot in the same season

With Vela's future still hanging in the balance, we bring you three hypothetical moves that would make sense for the 34-year-old as he looks to continue his professional career.

Extension with LAFC

Perhaps the one that makes the most sense for all parties involved, Vela could very well finish off his career as a professional soccer player with LAFC only if the math allows it.

According to Spotrac, Vela was LAFC's highest earner last season, taking home a little over $3 million. This is way beyond what he used to earn, as he agreed to a significant paycut when he extended his contract with the team in 2022. From 2018-21, Vela earned a guaranteed compensation of about $6.3 million per year.

If both parties were to agree to a new deal, more than likely Vela would need to take another pay cut and potentially vacate his place as one of the team's Designated Players. The maximum salary for a non-DP player is much lower to what Vela has been accustomed since arriving to MLS in 2018, with a cap of $1.7 million a year.

A move back to Mexico?

Reports have surfaced around social media that Liga MX club Cruz Azul would be interested in bringing Carlos Vela back to the Mexican league.

According to reports from ESPN, Cruz Azul is looking for another striker after Gabriel 'Toro' Fernández, who signed for Cruz Azul last month, suffered a rupture of the cruciate ligaments in his right knee that will sideline him for at least 7 months.

At the time of his arrival, Fernández became the third-most expensive transfer ever in club history with 'La Máquina' paying more than $9 million to Pumas for the Uruguayan striker.

Vela, who spent his youth career in the ranks of Chivas, never made his debut in the Mexican top-flight, as Arsenal bought the talented 17-year-old after he helped Mexico secure its first U-17 FIFA World Cup title in 2005.

A return to Europe

The 34-year-old spent most of his professional career playing in Europe and, without a club, a return to European football is certainly in the cards. Before arriving to Los Angeles in 2018, Vela spent 12 seasons playing in England and Spain. His most successful stint came with Spanish club Real Sociedad, where he became one of the best players in LaLiga.

Between 2011 and 2014, Vela reached double-figures in goals for Real Sociedad and helped the team qualify to the UEFA Champions League in 2013 for the first time in 10 years.

He managed to play 250 games for Real Sociedad, scoring 73 goals in all competitions. He remains as the non-European player with the most games played in the history of the club.

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