Barcelona have confirmed that Thomas Vermaelen is set to undergo surgery in Finland to resolve a nagging hamstring injury, with his recovery time from the operation estimated to be between four to six months.
Signed from Arsenal in August for £15 million, the Belgian defender, 29, has seen just 63 minutes of action for the club’s B team so far, having been suffering with the same problem since the World Cup.
He then suffered a further setback last week after resuming full training, and could now miss his entire debut season at the Nou Camp.
Vermaelen’s departure from Arsenal was met with mixed reaction from fans, but this latest development leads one to wonder whether Arsene Wenger dodged a bullet in offloading his former captain this summer.
Arriving from Ajax in 2009 for around £10 million, he became an integral part of Arsenal’s lineup during his first four seasons at the Emirates but, even then, his fitness record was cause for concern.
An Achilles issue saw him make just five appearances during the entire 2010-11 campaign, while further treatment on the problem the following September saw him miss six weeks of 2011-12.
He would fare better in 2012-13 in his first full campaign as skipper, missing just six matches, but a stress fracture in his back would rule him out for the start of 2013-14, before mid-season knee trouble sidelined him for another 11 games.