If the rumour-mill is to be believed, which it usually isn’t, Arsene Wenger appears to have made his first forage into the transfer market this summer, the Professor reported to be ready to splash out Â£10 million on Ajax defender Thomas Vermaelen.
The 23-year old Belgian centre-back developed through the ranks at Ajax, with Marco van Basten having employed Vermaelen as one of his defensive linchpins in the Amsterdammers’ rearguard in the season that just finished. Last term Vermaelen chalked up 40 games, chipping in with five goals, as well as amassing eight yellow cards and one red card during the campaign.
Without doubt the North Londoners need reinforcements at the back. William Gallas and Kolo Toure make a formidable center back pairing, but a recurring problem throughout the last term was the constant unavailability of one of the defenders from one match to another. Short of their first-choice defenders, Arsenal’s backline was severely weakened as a lack of strength in depth at the back was brought very much into focus.
Mikel Silvestre and Johan Djourou simply are not up to the task.
So is Thomas Vermaelen the solution? Good in the air, strong in the tackle and dangerous from set-plays, there is much to admire about Vermaelen. But, with that said, question-marks remain that the defender is far from the finished article, and accordingly Wenger is somewhat putting all his eggs in one basket, assuming that Vermaelen will be the main defender recruited over the summer.
Ajax collectively experienced a poor season, conceding 41 goals in 34 matches. Very few players at Ajax, save for Luis Suarez, can be proud of the season that just was, and with that Vermaelen is said to have underperformed. Some have gone so far as to label the defender as simply ordinary.
Video evidence of Thomas Vermaelen can be seen here.