By: timbersfan , 5:56 AM GMT on February 16, 2014

Sanchez seeking truth about Vela

By Andrea Canales | February 13, 2014 12:11:57 PM PST
Carlos Vela may or may not be the "Lionel Messi" of Mexico's national team, as ex-El Tri coach Hugo Sanchez stated to Mexican media recently, but one thing is certain: Sanchez is most definitely an annoying element to the current hierarchy of national team leadership.

The former coach is too outspoken for their liking, and he pulled no punches in his assessment of the current situation in which Mexico finds itself.

"If for some reason Messi didn't want to go [to the World Cup], the coach, the president, the directors, everyone, would need to beg him to play with the team," Sanchez stated. "For us, Carlos Vela is like Argentina's Messi, or like Cristiano Ronaldo is for Portugal. At that level, we can't allow ourselves the luxury of not having our best player on the national team."

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Put aside whether the scenario of Argentina or Portugal begging those players would happen -- it's purely imaginary because neither country has to do it. Both Ronaldo and Messi have reported for duty with their squads time and again in international competition. Vela has not.

Current coach Miguel Herrera and director Hector Gonzalez Inarritu would love to put the blame for that squarely at Vela's feet and did as much in their recent announcement that Vela would not participate in the World Cup after meeting with the player. Vela himself released a letter stating that he did not feel 100% ready and also, that it wasn't really fair of him to join the team after not being part of the qualifying campaign.

In Sanchez's view, whether or not Vela is completely ready or did enough to help the team qualify is immaterial. He's the best, so he should be part of the team, goes the basic logic. The calling out of the FMF for not doing enough to bring Vela back in to the team is clear.

"Some players should be given preferential treatment," Sanchez claimed. "Not everyone is equal."

The former Real Madrid player also threw out a bit of a veiled challenge to Vela himself. Sanchez pointed out that he had his own issues in his day with the federation, and was direct and public with his reasons.

Sanchez mentioned his distrust for powerful directors Emilio Maurer and Francisco Ibarra, stating that he told the federation he would not play while the two were part of the organization. He kept that promise and did not return until they left.

Vela has been circumspect and vague about specifics concerning his problems with the federation.

Sanchez did raise one specific point, however, that could possibly be a motive for Vela. In his view, Mexico's players aren't treated fairly, especially in relation to how lucrative their earnings are for the federation.

"Fifty percent of the profits generated by Spain's national team are given to their players -- so they are really taken into consideration," Sanchez attested.

Sanchez relishes the role of national team critic, but he also has an insider's view of things, as both a former national team player and coach, so his perspective is more valid than most.

One thing is clear, Sanchez has thrown down a gauntlet to Herrera and company -- and perhaps even to Vela -- that the issue of Vela not going to the World Cup was decided too soon. All parties, in his view, should return to the negotiating table and come back with a new deal.

Whether one considers Sanchez a blowhard or not, it's not a stretch to think the entire matter of the European visit was a rushed affair that likely put Vela on the spot in a defensive manner. Who, if not the FMF representatives, even planted the idea in his head that it wasn't fair for him to go to the World Cup instead of another player who had taken part in qualifying? Who else could have given Vela the idea that his locker room return would be less than welcoming? Or even if Vela trusted in the loyalty of fellow players, some of whom he has known since he was a young teenager, could he have despaired of winning over a coaching staff and team directors resentful of his popularity and earlier avoidance of national team duty?

We may never know the complete truth. Yet Sanchez, for one, isn't content with the answers currently put out by the federation. He has a point. Vela is too good for his loss to be accepted without question, even if the questions make Mexico's federation uncomfortable.

Tags:Mexican National TeamLiga MXMexicoMexico National TeamWorld Cup drawMiguel HerreraEl TriCarlos VelaHugo Sanchez
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