Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo this morning claim that Arsenal have put Thomas Vermaelen on the market for a move, pushed him toward the exit door and say that he's never been closer to a transfer away from the club as he is right now. Mundo say that Barcelona have been following him almost since he joined Arsenal but that a move always looked too expensive or hard to complete because he was such an important part of the London club.
That's changed, niggling injuries were followed by poor form and Vermaelen himself was unhappy about the situation if reports in Belgium were correct. The Belgian press led by Nieuwsblad said that his poor form last season with Arsenal was down to playing through injections whilst injured and he wasn't able to play to his best standard whilst under pain relieving treatment. When he was fit he wasn't given enough time and support by Arsene Wenger and therefore suffered because people didn't realise the reasons behind his poor form, almost like he was hung out to dry. The Belgium newspaper said playing whilst injured made the the situation worse and the possibility of an operation increased. That will obviously be argued by Arsenal fans who simply feel he hasn't been playing very well, and there's no excuses for that, but obviously the Belgian media are going to be more on his side.
Vermaelen turns 28 this year and his contract has two seasons left to run, the club either need to give him a new deal or will next summer be left in the same situation they were with Theo Walcott and Robin van Persie. His value by then will have gone down further but Mundo reckon Barcelona can get him for a decent fee now which sees him on the realistic list of defenders they can bring in. Following the purchase of Neymar, there's not a lot left in the transfer kitty so talk of Luiz and Thiago Silva, whilst frequent, is probably quite ambitious.
The defender deserves another season to show he can return to his Arsenal best but that would mean the club committing to a new contract and he'd surely want some assurances about playing time, not wanting to play second fiddle to anyone. It's the World Cup next year and whilst he certainly wouldn't be guaranteed a place at Barcelona he's better taking his chances at Camp Nou whilst genuinely challenging for titles on all stages, rather than sitting on the bench watching Arsenal.
The London club could use any fee to bring in a younger defender, and look toward the future rather than trying to get the man who once led them so well back to his best. It's going to be a hard decision for all involved.
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