Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen finally makes Barcelona debut

Thomas Vermaelen Pre FA Cup Press Conference

Thomas Vermaelen took to the field donning the Barcelona kit for the first time on Saturday.

Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen made his long-awaited Barcelona debut on Saturday as the Catalans celebrated Xavi Hernandez’s final game at the club.

The Belgian international centre-back traded the Gunners for Barcelona last summer in a deal which left a number of observers scratching their heads.

It’s not that the 29-year-old isn’t a top player, but the £15 million fee which the North Londoners received is excessively high for a player with renowned injury problems.

Vermaelen only featured 14 times in the Premier League last season, and Barca knew they were buying a player who had not yet recovered from a setback received at the World Cup.

As such, an ensuing campaign of recovery was on the cards and surgery for a recurring hamstring injury in December put him out of action for at least a further four months.

However, after a long, long wait, Barca’s summer recruit has finally fully recovered and was rewarded with a debut start during Xavi’s last La Liga appearance at the Nou Camp on the final day of the season.

In a makeshift XI and playing alongside Marc Bartra at the heart of the defence, Vermaelen recorded one interception and two clearances while maintaining a 93.2% pass completion rate.

It was a positive performance, and his substitution after 60 minutes partly disrupted the hosts’ rhythm as they allowed the visitors to claw back a two-goal deficit to dramatically draw 2-2.

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