Cast-out Arsenal central defender Thomas Vermaelen is a candidate to move away from the Emirates this summer, says manager Arsene Wenger.
“At the moment Thomas Vermaelen is here,” Wenger said from London before the Emirates Cup. “He is injured at the moment with a short-term [hamstring] injury.” It [a move] could happen, yes it’s a possibility that he goes. If he goes we have to replace him because he’s an important player in our squad.
Vermaelen has been the recipient of a bench spot thanks to the stellar partnership between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, which flourished last season.
At one point in February, Mertesacker and Koscielny reached 32 straight games unbeaten when both played the full 90 minutes. Arsenal locked down both men long-term during the course of last season.
This has pushed the 28-year-old Belgian onto the outside looking in, making just 14 appearances last season, seven of them starts. That’s the lowest total Vermaelen’s had for Arsenal in a season since 2010/11 when he tore his Achillies tendon.
“I expect him to stay but he, of course, did not play enough games last year,” Wenger said. “For me he’s a very important player but I couldn’t guarantee him the games he wanted last year.”
Credit to Wenger for telling it like it is. Vermaelen is a very good player, but the partnership between the two established starters is undeniably the best option for the Gunners. Any manager would like to have a backup of Vermaelen’s quality, but it’s hard to convince a good player to assume such a role.
Vermaelen has been linked with a move to Manchester United for a while now. He would be a fantastic grab for them, giving the Red Devils a Premier League and Champions League experienced player in the prime of his career to patch the losses of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Louis van Gaal, the new Manchester United manager, needs plenty of reinforcements at central defender to implement his favorite 3-at-the-back formation.
Reports also say Barcelona is interested, but Barcelona has been linked with just about every semi-decent player this summer as they look to overhaul their squad.