After five seasons playing for Arsenal, including two as captain of the club, Thomas Vermaelen has finally completed a transfer to Barcelona. The Belgian defender had been expected to leave the Emirates after two disappointing seasons, in which he went from star defender to rarely making appearances for the Gunners.
For Barcelona, the transfer gives the Spanish giants a desperately-needed center-back. After the retirement of one of the club’s most historic players (Carlos Puyol) Barca was on the lookout for a central defender to pair up with Gerard Pique. With his technical play and ability to score off set pieces, Vermaelen should fit well into the plans of first-year manager, Luis Enrique. Barcelona is looking to rebound after a poor 2013-14 campaign, in which the club did not win a major trophy.
For Arsenal, the transfer marks the fourth captain they’ve sold in the past seven years, and the third they’ve sold to Barcelona. Manager Arsene Wenger, who is certain on center-backs Pers Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, knew it was a matter of time before he would have to unload another skipper. The good news for Wenger and the club, however, is that Vermaelen was sold to Barcelona, rather than to rivals Manchester United, who were very interested in signing the Belgian after two of their long-tenured center-backs, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, transferred to different clubs.
The true winner in the transfer, however, is Vermaelen himself. After barely touching the pitch the past two years, Vermaelen is finally on a club that will need him day in and day out. The move to Barca allows him to reignite his career and make amends for the past two seasons. Look for Vermaelen to take full advantage of this opportunity and help Barca reclaim its spot as one of the elite teams in Europe.
Asheer Mahbob is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @el_especial24.