Thomas Vermaelen marked his move to Barcelona last August by telling reporters: “I feel ready to play here. I think I can offer a lot to this club.” Thomas Vermaelen did not speak the truth.
In fact, he’s played precisely zero first team minutes since coming off injured during Belgium’s win over Russia in the World Cup last June. The hamstring problem turned into surgery after Barça and the player realized there was an issue, only days after his medical got, quite literally, a thumbs-up. (Did no one check his legs? They’re often quite important when assessing the health of soccer players.)
Happily, we might be seeing him in first-team action soon, as he’s training with the squad – as Marca points out in a story with the frankly suggestive headline, “Vermaelen enjoys some group action”.
Obviously it’s not Vermaelen’s fault the transfer has so far been a disaster. That’s on Barcelona, who spent $22 million on him despite an injury record so elongated it could dunk in the NBA from a standing position. He’s only 29, but the fact that he lost his place in the Arsenal starting line-up because of injuries and form ought to have warned Barça they might be buying a lemon.
Indeed, just the fact they were buying a player from Arsenal should have raised more red flags than a Chinese communist party ceremony. Most of the players Barcelona buy from Arsenal – and there are quite a lot – get injured, are overpriced, or both.
Consider: Alex Song for $22 million. Manu Petit for $12 million. Marc Overmars for $40 million, 15 years ago. Alex Hleb for $12 million. Alex Hleb! Even Thierry Henry was relatively disappointing at the Nou Camp compared with his brilliance in north London.
Just stop buying from the Gunners, Barça. Arsène Wenger’s making you look like idiots.