Thomas Vermaelen recently revealed Barcelona forced him to stay this summer, but now the Spanish club have responded insisting he’s allowed to leave.
The 31-year-old looked set to leave Barcelona in the summer, with Everton the most likely destination. A deal was almost hashed out on deadline day in August but fell through at the request of the Catalans. Latest reports suggest the player and club are on separate pages over how the failed deal transpired.
Vermaelen told DH: “The board told me they needed four centre-backs. I didn’t have a choice but to stay. Clubs tried until the very last day, like Everton, but it was impossible. I wasn’t even able to negotiate.”
However, now Mundo Deportivo report that Vermaelen must have not expressed himself well in talks with the club. Meanwhile, Marca’s article on Monday says Barcelona are arguing that they would be more than willing to negotiate the defender’s departure, and deny Vermaelen’s claims.
Regardless of who is telling the truth, you could understand why the former Gunner is starting to get quite frustrated. So far this season, Barcelona have played 11 matches in three different competitions. Vermaelen has appeared on the bench once, against SD Eibar, and hasn’t even made the squad on any other occasion.
There were some reports of injuries to the centre-back, with knee problems and muscular issues as the reasons for some of his absences. However, given Vermaelen completed 90 minutes for Belgium at the start of September, and has now managed another full game in October, these injuries seem to me very conveniently timed to avoid the international breaks in my opinion.
I wouldn’t put it past Barcelona to feed the media a story to stop them looking bad, but I also wouldn’t put it past a frustrated player to blame his club for all his problems. I guess we’ll find out in January if Vermaelen really is free to go.