24 Vermaelen

Thomas Vermaelen

Defender

The former Arsenal captain is known for his strength in defence and his ability with the ball at his feet

Thomas Vermaelen became a new FC Barcelona player on August 9, 2014. Signed from Arsenal, he arrived as an experienced centre back with proven leadership skills.

Vermaelen is a product of the Ajax academy, which he joined at the age of 15, and he made his first team debut for the Dutch side in 2004. Shortly after, he was loaned to RKC Waalwijk before returning to Amsterdam to become a first team regular. He went on to win the Dutch League (2003/04), two Dutch Cups (2005/06 & 2006/07) and two Dutch Super Cups (2006 & 2007), and became captain in 2008/09 before Arséne Wenger took him to Arsenal in the summer of 2009.

He impressed right from his Premier League debut against Everton, and soon became a firm fan favourite. In his first season with the Gunners, Vermaelen played 45 games and scored eight goals, and was even named in the Premiership XI of the season

He suffered with injuries in the following seasons, but still did enough to earn the captain’s armband after Robin Van Persie left for Man United in 2012. In his final season in North London, Vermaelen led the side to the FA Cup title.

He made his international debut for his country at the age of just 20 in March 2006. Shortly before signing for FC Barcelona, he played for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. One of the finest defenders in the wonderful generation of Belgian footballers, he helped take his side as far as the quarter-finals.

Following a long recovery from injury, the Dutch defender finally made his debut with the first team in the last La Liga game of the season — a 2–2 draw with Deportivo La Coruña at Camp Nou — in which he played 66 minutes. The Belgian defender spent the 2016/17 season at Italian club AS Roma before returning to Barça when his loan spell was up. 

Technical profile

A product of the famous Ajax academy, Thomas Vermaelen is a centre back who knows how to get the ball out into the open, is tactically aware and is strong in the tackle. He has an excellent reading of the game and although his favoured position is in the centre of defence, he can easily slot in at left-back if required. He is a natural leader and has ample experience of football in both Holland and England.