Vermaelen ready to return for FC Barcelona and feeling confident


cc by Leandro’s World Tour

It is difficult to believe that Thomas Vermaelen has now been a Barcelona player for some 14 months.

Snapped up for £15 million from Arsenal in the summer of 2014, the Belgium international was considered to be quite a coup, and a player who would slot seamlessly into the fold at Camp Nou.

Comfortable in possession and strong in the tackle, Vermaelen fit the Barca mould perfectly – with healthy competition provided to the likes of Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano.

His struggles in Catalunya since then have been well documented.

The 29-year-old arrived nursing niggles, but offered enough to Barcelona’s medical staff to suggest that he was worth spending big on.

A series of unfortunate fitness issues followed, preventing Vermaelen from making his competitive debut until the final game of the 2014/15 La Liga season – against Deportivo La Coruna.

He was, however, to work hard over the summer and returned better prepared to fight for a regular role this time around.

Luis Enrique has been prepared to offer him those opportunities, and the classy defender has impressed during his seven outings in all competitions.

He was, however, to be struck down again shortly after September’s international break, with an untimely calf complaint picked up during the first half of a meeting with Atletico Madrid forcing an early exit from that contest and preventing him from playing any part in Belgium’s final Euro 2016 qualifiers and subsequent rise to the top of the FIFA World Rankings.

A pause in domestic duties has given Vermaelen an opportunity to ease his way back to full health, though, and he has been a notable presence on the training ground this week.

He could now come back into contention for Saturday’s home date with Rayo Vallecano – a contest they are 1/7 to take maximum points from within La Liga betting markets.

His availability is likely to be welcomed by Enrique, with Barca having found it uncharacteristically difficult to keep the back door bolted of late.

You have to go back to August 29 to find the last clean sheet secured in all competitions, with seven fixtures having come and gone since then.

Vermaelen is no miracle cure, but he is a useful option to have at your disposal and is a player full of confidence again after coming through the most testing period of his professional career.

He admits to feeling better about his game, life in new surroundings and the start he has made to the current campaign.

All concerned at Barcelona will be hoping that Vermaelen’s most recent setback proves to be his last for the foreseeable future, allowing him to show his true colours in a role that was seemingly tailor-made for him.