Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen has provided fans of the Catalan club with a positive update on his fitness after revealing that he's on course to make his long-awaited return from injury next month.
The Belgium international is still waiting to make his competitive debut at Camp Nou after spending the entirety of the 2014/15 campaign in the treatment room with a hamstring problem first picked up at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil last summer.
Despite the 29-year-old's well documented list of injury troubles over the past few years, Barca still opted to sign the former Arsenal captain in a £15 million deal, but even the most pessimistic of supporters could not have predicted they'd have to wait so long for Vermaelen's first appearance in Luis Enrique's side.
Arsene Wenger was criticised by some Gunners fans for choosing to cash-in on the crocked centre-back, but given that he's been unavailable for selection after undergoing surgery on a rather serious tear he looks to have done well getting such a significant sum of money for the Ajax academy graduate.
Vermaelen's departure did leave Arsenal short on central defensive options for the first half of the season after failing to bring in a replacement at the Emirates Stadium, but the January arrival of Gabriel Paulista has gone some way to resolving those issues.
Had the Belgian remained in north London his presence would've been redundant anyway, so Wenger was right to sell the stopper for a tidy profit on what the Premier League club paid for his services in 2009.
However, after a frustrating spell on the sidelines it appears Vermaelen can now see the light at the end of the tunnel as he steps up the final stages of his rehabilitation.
"I am looking forward to contributing to Barca's success this season," - Thomas Vermaelen
"Everything is going according to plan, therefore I am right on schedule to get back in the squad in April," he wrote on his official Facebook page. "I am looking forward to contributing to Barca's success this season.
"It's a big step in my rehab starting running again. I am very happy to be outside again instead of staying inside in the gym all the time. It's hard work but it's worth it."
In response to recent speculation that suggested Barcelona regret buying the versatile defender given what they know now about his fitness issues, Vermaelen was quick to point out that there have been no real surprises following a very thorough medical which took place before he put pen to paper on a long-term five-year contract.
"Barcelona did notice the seriousness of the injury when they did the medical and there were two options," he explained, with quotes taken from the Daily Mail. "You could do surgery but they said it's not necessary you can do it with preventative exercises, make it as strong as you can and then it shouldn't be a problem.
"We spoke to a lot of specialists and they all said it's possible to do without surgery so for me it was an easy choice to go that way. It didn't work out. We tried for a couple of months and I could feel it wasn't the same as before.
"So we went to get some advice from another specialist, a very famous one, and he said maybe it's time to do surgery. I am just following the programme the surgeon told me to do and it's going well."
Arsenal fans: How do you feel about Arsene Wenger's decision to sell Thomas Vermaelen now? Do you think he'll feature for Barcelona this season - or fear he'll struggle to regain fitness before the end of the campaign? Share your thoughts below…
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