Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen has hinted that he will consider a future away from North London if it comes to it, which has opened up the question of which side he could possibly join from the Premier League leaders.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will hopefully have learned from past mistakes, which makes the Gunners unlikely to let Vermaelen leave for another Premier League side, especially a team that could hurt them.
The only teams at the moment that could realistically make successful bids for the Belgian and offer him what he wants, which is regular football, are Spanish champions Barcelona and French money bags Monaco.
Barcelona have been linked with Vermaelen in the past as they apparently seek a long term replacement for Carles Puyol at the Nou Camp.
Marc Bartra has come into the first team this season, he’s played well and is a regular feature for the side but it doesn’t cover up the fact Barca are still playing a holding midfielder at centre back in the form of Javier Mascherano.
Barca have the resources it would take to buy Vermaelen from Arsenal and they also have the stature in terms of success and history to convince him to make the move.
Monaco are in a position where they would be able to pay Vermaelen more than he earns at Arsenal and more than any other side interested in him would be able to offer.
Monaco is exempt from regulation French tax laws, which means several players can head to the side and earn fortunes, away from the heavy income tax limit the French government places on higher earners.
Vermaelen is also arguably a higher quality centre back than any of the defenders at Monaco filling central positions.
However, the underlying reason that any move away from the Emirates is unlikely to ever happen for Vermaelen is because he remains an integral part of Arsenal’s defence.
If the Gunners sold him in the middle of the season, they would need to find defensive cover and that could trigger sides to charge well over the odds for any targets that Arsenal have an interest in.
Wenger has always been very clear in the respect that he will never pay over the odds for a player he doesn’t think is worth it and a player that won’t improve his first team, which means over pricing could see the Gunners go through the winter without picking up a replacement.
Injuries, suspensions and other unforeseen circumstances are just as likely to happen over the second half of the season as any other time, which means if Vermaelen is going anywhere, it’s unlikely to be until after the World Cup in Brazil.
Arsenal fans, what do you make of the exit rumours?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald