Shrewsbury legend Dave Edwards believes Vela has been the club’s best and most consistent performer across his two-and-a-half years in Shropshire. But the midfielder decided to move on this summer after turning down a new contract offer from Shrews boss Steve Cotterill and instead opting to join League One rivals Fleetwood Town.
Vela, 28, scored five goals in 94 games for Salop having been signed by Sam Ricketts. He was voted player of the season in 2020/21 and Edwards, his team-mate until last summer, says if his departure was unexpected then it will lead to more recruitment work.
“It’s a big blow for Shrewsbury,” said Edwards. “If they thought they had Vels done and dusted that would affect their recruitment, because it doesn’t just happen at the end of the year, it happens leading up to that.
“So they might have a position they think they didn’t need to fill.
“It’s a blow. I wouldn’t say his form was as good this season as the year before but he was still definitely still one of Shrewsbury’s best players.
“And I think over the two-year period, the two-and-a-half years he was there, he was probably consistently the best player.
“He’s an all-action midfielder who was always going to do well in League One. If he’d have stayed at Shrewsbury he’d have played every game he was fit for, that shows you he will be a loss.
“But hopefully hey can replace him with someone of his quality. It’ll be difficult to do but there’s no doubt it was a bit of a blow.”
Town’s sole summer signing is a midfielder, Jordan Shipley from Coventry City, but Shrews still have work to do in beefing that department with just Luke Leahy as another option, although the versatile Elliott Bennett can operate there.
The club are progressing with a new right wing-back recruit and Preston midfielder Tom Bayliss, 23, who is available for transfer, has been linked with Town.
Edwards added on Vela’s switch: “I’m biased but I see Shrewsbury as a club superior to Fleetwood in my personal opinion.
“But so much goes into it, location-wise it’ll be better for Josh and if they’d offered more money and a longer contract, there’s no way a fan at this level of football can hold a grudge.
“It’s not a Premier League players turning down 90 grand a week to go for 100 grand, it’s money to really affect their retirement. So I’m not really surprised but it’s just a shame, I know Vels did like it at Shrewsbury.”
n Meanwhile, Town have added friendlies against Qatar SC and Burnley to their pre-season fixture list.
Salop will face Qatar SC, a side that finished ninth in the Qatar Stars League last season, during their trip to Spain on July 6 – and host Burnley at Montgomery Waters Meadow on July 15 (7pm).