It seems that every press conference Jose Manuel 'Chepo' de la Torre holds, the issue of Real Sociedad's Carlos Vela is raised, and it is not difficult to work out why.
The former Arsenal and Chivas player has 12 goals in 23 starts this season in La Liga and is impacting the outcome of games in one of the world's best leagues on a regular basis.
"Although we are a collective that rises above the individual, we can say that Carlos Vela is the star of the team," Sociedad coach Phillippe Montanier said in an interview with Marca this week.
High praise, yet the form Mexican player of 2013 has not featured for El Tri in almost two years and has played less than 60 minutes for the national team since De la Torre took over.
The latest twist in the soap opera came when De la Torre stated Monday that Vela could return to the national team, but that he has to change his attitude first.
"I don’t have any problem with Vela," De la Torre said in a press conference to promote the April 17 friendly in San Francisco. "Everything will depend on his attitude if he is to return to the squad."
Vela will not feature in the upcoming qualifiers against Honduras and the United States later this month, with the squad list for Europe-based players already released and the Cancun native's name nowhere to be seen.
However, there may come a time when Vela again wears a Mexico shirt and De la Torre is not ruling out a future call-up.
"In this national team, the doors are open to everyone," stressed De la Torre. "It just depends on their form with their clubs."
That is not strictly true with Vela. Nobody can seriously argue that the inclusion of the 24-year-old wouldn’t represent a significant upgrade to the Mexican offense.
The issue in the background between the player and the Mexican soccer federation (FMF), most likely, was the six-month ban Vela received for the infamous party the players had after the Sept. 7, 2010 game against Colombia in Monterrey.
With hindsight, it wasn’t a smart move to single out Vela and Efrain Juarez for such a long ban, when 11 other players escaped with a fine of around $4,000. Since then, Vela has accepted just one call-up.
Asked about the ban and if it was his worst moment in soccer in a February interview with Noticias de Gipuzkoa, Vela replied: "I don’t know. I prefer to remember the good things. Negative things I leave behind and I'll always remember good things that happened and the friends that support me."
The interviewer then asked about whether Vela could see himself returning to the national team fold.
"We’ll see," came the short reply.
Whatever the real issue is between the FMF and Vela, it's inconceivable that the player wouldn’t want to play in Brazil 2014 and impossible to suggest that Mexico would not be a much better side with him there.
The sooner the ice is broken between the parties, the better for everyone.
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