Spanish press react to Vermaelen, say Arsenal captains are cursed

Thomas Vermaelen's transfer to Barcelona and continued injury suggests the Arsenal captain's curse strikes again. But who's next?

A headline printed by Catalan publication Sport earlier today, Tuesday, reads: "Luis Enrique will struggle against the curse of Arsenal captains."

Within the body copy, a number of examples are listed which highlight how players who have excelled in North London have gone on to struggle elsewhere. Patrick Vieira, for example, seemingly fell victim to Calciopoli and so only lasted one season in Juventus before suffering a "premature departure". 

Vieira is often heralded as one of the all-time Arsenal greats to wear the armband but his experience is by no means an isolated occurrence as Sport go on to underline how Frank Rijkaard failed to accommodate Thierry Henry - a legendary striker at Arsenal and, also, a Gunners skipper - into an attacking quadrant that also consisted of Ronaldinho, Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi.

"A year without titles and a Champions League semifinal exit was enough to ensure the 'Rijkaard era' had come to an end, triggering the arrival of Pep Guardiola" they write.

However, while Guardiola ushered in an era of unprecedented success - with the Champions League title arriving at Camp Nou twice, in 2009 then again in 2011, Barcelona once again prised an Arsenal captain away from North London as Francesc Fabregas was bought.

Sport claim Guardiola was a success but that Fabregas was his failure.

Of course, Guardiola - an elite-level manager in the making should he sustain his success - has illustrious company when it comes to succumbing to the curse of Arsenal captains as Sir Alex Ferguson is listed as buying a dud in Robin van Persie.

Regardless of the manner in which the Dutchman fired Manchester United to the Premier League title in the 2012-13 season, the following year - under the tutelage of David Moyes - he lacked motivation, confidence and fitness. He was not the same van Persie.

Thomas Vermaelen continues this abject trend: "Everything suggests that there is a 'curse' of the past captains at Arsenal," as the centre back has carried over a hamstring injury from his time at the Emirates Stadium.

Manager Arsene Wenger has been swift to name his successor as Mikel Arteta is now the club's skipper. At 32, he is by no means assured a regular spot in Wenger's first-team, as he vies for a central midfield position along with Mathieu Flamini, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and now Calum Chambers.

There is even the suggestion that Wenger will return to the transfer market in order to gun for Sporting Lisbon sensation William Carvalho.

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