There were transactions between Arsenal and Barca in the summer. Arsenal got Alexis Sanchez from the Catalans while the Spanish giants lured former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen. It was almost the same stroke for both folks. Sanchez wanted a move away in a bid to get more regular first team football after it looked like he was fallen further down the pecking order no thanks to the summer arrival of Uruguayan striker Luis Saurez in the summer.
For Vermaelen, it was a similar story. He was more of an off the field captain rather than on the field one as he played back up to the centre back duo of Koscielny and Mertesacker. To brighten his chances of playing regularly, he wanted a move away from North London and the Nou Camp looked an attractive prospect. The Catalans were short of decent centre backs and he believed he could reclaim his lost glory there.
For Arsenal, selling to Barca was the best decision. Manchester United were also keen but the regrets Wenger has had from selling his key players to domestic rivals saw him jump at the opportunity to ship him to another league. Thankfully, Vermaelen wasn’t obstinate about joining Manchester United like his predecessor.
Some months after joining Barcelona, Vermaelen is still yet to make his competitive debut for the Catalans no thanks to injuries. Now, the Spanish giants are feeling aggrieved that the Gunners sold them a broken player. This was revealed in a Catalan tabloid Sport where it was claimed that Arsenal knew they were selling a player who had gone through a ‘dangerous spiral of injuries’.
I am surprised at Barca’s foul crying when nothing requires it. It was no secret that Vermaelen had injury issues even while at Arsenal and at the World Cup, the competition he played before joining Barca. The Catalans had the benefit of medical test to conduct on him to ascertain his fitness in the short and long term. If after doing all these, they still went ahead to sign him, it is because they were satisfied with the results they got.
Or should I say they were desperate to land an experienced defender on the cheap. You cannot eat your cake and still have it. Barca wanted an experienced ball playing defender that would fit into their tiki-taka style and 3 defenders formation but were reluctant to spend big to land such a prized defender. They tried and failed for David Luiz, Benatia, Marquinhos, Vertoghen and Thiago Silva. The simple reason was because of their reluctance to meet the price slapped on those players. Vermaelen had the experience and versatility to play that role and was equally available on the cheap but unfortunately had the baggage of injuries to go with the attractive package.
I could remember Barca gloated after signing Fabregas that they got him on the cheap. Now that they got Vermalen also on the cheap, why are they complaining? I am quite sure they would have been bragging that they have once again gotten a cheap bargain from North London if Vermaelen was playing and delivering the goods.
Blaming Arsenal for Vermaelen’s injury woes after adjudging him to have passed medicals is tantamount to blaming Liverpool if Suarez bites again. Those are weights that unfortunately accompany the massive glory of those players. It is now their burden let them bear it.