Stats: Should Manchester United go all-out for Thomas Vermaelen?

Vermaelen Captain

Arsenal defender could be available in the summer market. Considering the exit of Nemanja Vidic, could Vermaelen be a strong buy?

Is it that unfathomable that Manchester United, a club who will no doubt raid the transfer market for an experienced centre back, could be interested in a player seemingly available this summer; seldom-used defender Thomas Vermaelen, captain of Arsenal?

The Gunners did not hold a grudge over United selling them the disastrous Mikael Silvestre as, just two years ago, Arsene Wenger sanctioned the sale of Robin van Persie to the Old Trafford club - clearly, business can be down between these two behemoths of British football.

Vermaelen is yet to be linked with United through a reliable source, with the bulk of transfer speculation suggesting that the Belgium international and AS Napoli of Serie A will be suitably married when the market reopens for trading (The Times and Daily Mirror).

However, considering the impending exits of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, surely United could benefit from the acquisition of Vermaelen - a player who has an abundance of Premier League experience, has leadership skills, obvious defensive qualities and, at 28-years-old, is not yet even at his peak as a player in his position.

Vermaelen has a transfermarkt.co.uk valuation of £12.5m but could be purchased for a fee below that as his contractual obligations at Arsenal expire next summer.

He is also paid a rather modest (in the exorbitant world of footballers salaries) £70,000 per week, meaning total expenditure on a pre-prime but accomplished athlete would not be too dear.

  TeamMins/ TouchPass AccMins/ TackleMins/ Duel WonAerial BattleMins/ ClearMins/ GoalAppMins
Vermaelen  Arsenal 1.52 90.8% 55.86 14.22 2.36/ App 10.03 48.88 14 782
Ferdinand  United 1.56 89.0% 112.80 38.90 1.14/ App 12.67 75.20 14 1,128
Evans  United 1.32 87.3% 72.47 20.55 2.06/ App 10.35 68.85 17 1,377
Vidic  United 1.41 85.5% 71.79 14.36 4.28/ App 7.89 83.28 25 2,082
Smalling  United 1.30 82.6% 45.07 14.57 2.52/ App 10.89 77.52 25 1,938

Vermaelen is not first choice at Ashburton Grove, having been relegated to a tertiary choice due to the flourishing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny's partnership despite his captain's status.

While he has played significantly less Premier League football this season than Ferdinand, Vidic, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling have individually at Stretford, he is still on the ball a comparable amount of time as the United quartet, but can brag a much higher passing accuracy.

He is not only more useful in possession, but when it comes to one-on-one dueling, he is far more productive than Ferdinand and Evans and marginally greater than Smalling and Vidic.

Smalling is the most exceptional tackler of the five, attempting a challenge every 45 minutes he is on the field, on average (yet Vermaelen is not too far behind). Vidic stands alone in terms of aerial ability, winning the ball 4.28 times per appearance with Vermaelen third.

The statistic that most lets the Gunner down from this season is his concession rate - almost two per 90 minute outing, yet it may be fairer to compare Vermaelen of last season, or the one before, as he played much more and would have no 'pitch rust' as it were.

Here are Vermaelen's respective statistics from the same key areas in 2012-13, if he dominates a particular category against the United foursome, his stat is emboldened.

  TeamMins/ TouchPass AccMins/  TackleMins/ Duel WonAerial BattleMins/ ClearMins/ GoalAppsMins
Vermaelen Arsenal 1.49 86.29 52.02 16.09 2.31 17.08 69.91 29 2,237

Here are Vermaelen's respective statistics from the same key areas in 2011-12, if he dominates a particular category against the United foursome, his stat is emboldened.

  TeamMins/ TouchPass AccMins/ TackleMins/ Duel WonAerial BattleMins/ ClearMins/ GoalAppsMins
Vermaelen Arsenal 1.30 85.54 52.72 18.92 1.86 20.65 99.12 29 2,478

While Vermaelen dominates fewer key areas against the United four in seasons he has played more Premier League football, the most notable statistic is the 99 minutes per goal concession from the 2011-12 season. If he can recapture that level of performance at Stretford, then his addition would no doubt be worth pursuing.

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