Manchester United have been linked with a move for Thomas Vermaelen and the Arsenal captain is the latest player to be linked with a move away from the Emirates, with Old Trafford seemingly his favoured destination.
Vermaelen has been third choice for Arsenal for some time now, despite being named in the Premier League team of the year in his first season at the club and has been unable to break the established Per Mertesacker/Laurent Koscielny partnership.
With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic now out of the squad, Louis van Gaal will more than likely look for defensive reinforcement but is Vermaelen who he’ll sign?
Belgian journalist Bjorn De Cock spoke with The Peoples Person about United’s chances of signing Vermaelen and offers some insight into if he would be a good signing.
Do you believe the deal will go ahead?
Well, now with Louis van Gaal in charge he will have a lot to say about this transfer. I do think the Dutch coach would like to add Vermaelen to his squad. He likes to have defenders with a good passing ability. He also knows Vermaelen from his time in the Eredivisie when the Belgian defender played for Ajax.
Do you believe that, if he does sign, he would improve what United already have in defence?
With Nemanja Vidic leaving, yes. He’s a little bit underestimated at this time at Arsenal. Mostly because of injuries he missed a lot of games and then it’s difficult to maintain your spot in the starting XI of a top club in Europe. This would be a golden opportunity for Vermaelen to show that he’s still one of the best left footed central defenders in the Premier League.
Why do you think he remains third choice for Arsenal, when in fact Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have a poor defensive record themselves?
The most important thing is his injuries. He was very injury prone the last two seasons and that was crucial for his future at Arsenal. Arsenal coach Wenger needed to find stability and that was only possible with defenders who were able to play week after week.
He can play at left-back and centre-back. What is his best position?
Centre-back by far. He’s not mobile enough to play as a left-back. In modern football, you expect fast left-backs with some dribbling technique. His only strong weapon as a left-back is his crossing ability.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Vermaelen is a born leader. For a central defender his passing and shooting technique are above average. He’s also a good header of the ball. He’s also known for his rushes from time to time, a powerful weapon for a defender. You could say that his positioning is sometimes weak. His weakest point is of course his injury prone body.
Has his lack of first team action affected his place for the Belgium side?
Yes, certainly. Marc Wilmots, national coach of Belgium, would always have played with Kompany and Vermaelen when he was Arsenal’s captain. Now, Marc Wilmots thinks about putting the more experienced Daniel Van Buyten of Bayern Münich next to Kompany. A good World Cup would do him good though.
In which position does he play for country usually?
Usually he plays as a central defender but some national coaches also used him as left-back due to the lack of quality left-backs in Belgium. We’re doing the same now with Jan Vertonghen, who’s also a better central defender than a left-back but a better left-back than Vermaelen is but his versatility is nonetheless a good thing for his future team.
Will he be a great loss to Arsenal were he to depart?
Not any more. Maybe they’ll miss him as the leader of their team but Vermaelen’s story has come to an end at Arsenal. He needs to breath some new fresh air and Manchester United would be a great opportunity for him. Start from scratch and without injuries he could show us that he’s still a good defender.