When Thomas Vermaelen signed for Barcelona it's fair to say that a few eyebrows were raised.
Not in terms of his ability of course. You don't get to be captain of a great institution like Arsenal if you don't have something about you as a player.
No, the head scratching began because, clearly, the player was struggling with injury when he was putting pen to paper, and it was alleged a transfer that the doctors at Barca were vehemently against.
All clear in September
Supposedly given the all clear to play at the end of September, the Belgian international has still yet to pull on the Blaugrana as we enter the mid-way mark in November.
It's astonishing that a club of Barca's stature, who so obviously need as many players fit and ready to play, would take the risk with a player who hasn't played a full 90 minutes in over a year.
A fleeting dalliance for Barca B against an Indonesian U19 side is the only time the supporters have seen Vermaelen in his new colours:
Did the club bow to fan pressure knowing that they would not be able to sign anyone else until January 2016?
Whatever the reasons, they are somewhat of an irrelevance now given that the deal was done.
No news is bad news
It's a situation that is beginning to irk Luis Enrique too. At a recent press conference, he snapped at reporters via Jen Evelyn of Inside Spanish Football:
“Any of the responses I’ve given in the last two months is still valid. There are no new news.”
Given that Gerard Pique isn't enjoying the best form of his career at present, it would be an opportune time for Vermaelen to break into the side.
His skill set would certainly be most welcomed alongside any one from three of Marc Bartra, Jeremy Mathieu or Javier Mascherano. Maybe even Pique if he can buck his ideas up.
Vermaelen offers pace and power at the back and was one of Arsene Wenger's most trusted generals whilst in north London.
Aerial ability needed
Not only that but he was an aerial presence par excellence, something that the Catalans still desperately need this season, despite the acquisition of two six-foot plus players.
In a sign of things to come perhaps, he only lost his place at the heart of the Gunners' back four because of ongoing injury concerns and Wenger must be rubbing his hands with glee at this juncture, robbing Barca blind and getting away with it.
In any event, Vermaelen is still "some weeks" away from first team duties at Barca which must be a huge concern to anyone behind the deal.
A £15 million transfer fee may be seen as small change in today's marketplace, but if the Belgian isn't right soon, it will be one more stick to beat the current board with.
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