£15m Sale Of Vermaelen Is Great Business For Arsenal


Usually when Barcelona sign a player from Arsenal, the Gooners groan as they lose yet another star from their ranks. But with Thomas Vermaelen now a Barca player, it seems like the Gunners and their fans are quite happy with the sale.

So they should, if I am being honest. In his first season in England, he became a figurehead in the Arsenal team. He played forty-five times and scored eight goals. In 2011/12 he would replicate that form with forty appearances and six goals. He was strong, assured, quick in challenges and good going forward.

During those years it looked inevitable that the Belgian would replace Nemanja Vidic as the Premier League’s best central defender. But injuries would then play a part in stalling Vermaelen’s career. An achilles problem in 2010 was followed by various spells on the sidelines due to more niggling set-backs.

His form would suffer as he always seemed a game or two away from getting another injury. It told in his performances. He didn’t seem as quick or as committed and lacked real confidence. Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger spotted that his captain was no longer as dependable as he once was, and elected to use Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as his preferred central defenders.

When ‘Tommy V’ did get his chances he would seem rusty, not surprising as his chances were now limited. Last term, Thomas only managed to make fourteen league appearances for Arsenal. He was also on the bench for the FA Cup final.

As you can imagine he wasn’t happy with the cheerleader role and made it known he wanted to leave the Gunners this summer.

At the start of the transfer window it seemed Napoli and Manchester United were interested, with fees of anything between £8m-£12m being circulated. Arsenal though played a long game and decided to recruit first. This afforded them time to wait and see if any other suitors would come forward.

After signing defensive recruits Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, Wenger gave the green light to sell his captain. At this time FC Barcelona became interested. It was now a fight between them and Man United for his signature. That allowed Arsenal to up the price to £15m. It also meant that Wenger could enquire about a possible swap deal involving United’s Chris Smalling. When United reject that idea it was easy for Wenger to sanction the move to the Catalan giants.

The whole deal was superb business for Arsenal. They managed to offload their third best centre back at a premium price (offsetting the Chambers deal) and to a club that was not in England.

Arsenal fans will be happy to see Vermaelen move on and not to their rivals. He was a top servant at the club but his career had stalled and his best years at the Emirates were behind him. He needs to move on and play, that wasn’t going to happen with the Gunners. That said, I’m sure the Arsenal faithful will also be asking their manager to go out and bring in a new centre-back as extra cover for the squad.

Hopefully Thomas Vermaelen can settle in at the Nou Camp and prove himself again as one of the best defenders in the world. Sometimes it just doesn’t work-out at one place or things get a bit stale. He might just need that change of scenery to get going again and find that bit of luck that seemed to desert him in London.

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