Thomas Vermaelen may not be a certain starter when Barcelona travel to north London to take on his former club Arsenal on Tuesday, but that has not stopped the defender from preparing for every possibility.
The Belgium international left Arsenal in 2014 after several seasons of an injury-plagued captaincy. Few in the Emirates terraces were left weeping his departure and he is likely to get a warm reception from his former fans if and when he takes the field. However, that will all change if Vermaelen hits the back of the net.
He readily admits that he has no qualms with celebrating a goal against Arsene Wenger's team and is fully prepared to go nuts if he does. It is not, however, because of any ill-feeling he has towards the Gunners, rather his belief that not celebrating will be disrespectful to his new club.
Asked by the Daily Mail if he would celebrate, the 30-year-old replied: "Yeah, probably. You have to show respect for who you're playing for as well. I feel like that's not always real.
"I play for Barcelona now, so I hope we win. I will never deny I have warm feelings towards Arsenal, it's a club that's been very good to me. I'm very happy that I played there. Sometimes you go different ways and that happens in football. Now I'm at Barcelona and I want to go through."
Vermaelen started just 14 games for Arsenal in his final season at the club. That was partly down to the fact that Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were forming a formidable partnership but also down to a variety of injury problems. Those injury problems followed him to Camp Nou, but he is now becoming an established in Luis Enrique's rotation.
Although he is now focused on winning the treble with Barcelona, Vermaelen admits he has been keeping his eye on Arsenal's Premier League title challenge and is excited to face the team he believes are favourites to win England's elite division.
"I was very excited. Not only because it's my old team, but it's a very attractive game for everybody to watch," Vermaelen explained.
"[It will be between] Two similar sides that want to play good football. It's a fixture a lot of players have been looking forward to.
"For me, it's special, personally. I will go there and see a lot of ex-team-mates and the others around the club. I haven't been back there since because I haven't had time. Hopefully, I can see a few people there.
"They're having a good season. They are in the title race. I gave them a big chance at the beginning of the season because I was quite impressed by the way they started. I think they have a good chance to win it."
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