Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta insists he doesn’t regret signing Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal, despite the defender looking set to miss his entire debut season at the Nou Camp.
Signed for £15 million in August, Vermaelen has seen just 63 minutes of action for the club’s B team so far, having been suffering with a nagging hamstring issue since the World Cup, and is now scheduled to undergo an operation in Finland to resolve the problem.
Set to be sidelined for around three months as a result, Barca have come under considerable criticism from fans since the announcement of the news, with 92% of those who voted in a poll conducted by Spanish publication Diario Sport labelling the 29-year-old’s signing a mistake, but Zubizarreta disagrees.
“In principle, there’ll be a three month recovery period following the operation. It’s not a disappointment,” he told Canal Plus.
“It’s one more question in life. We knew he was coming here injured. We had a conservative process in place. It was perfect.
“He had a tiny tear and the best thing was for him to undergo an operation. When he comes back he will play right away, he doesn’t need to adapt.
“He’s used to working under pressure. I didn’t say he was going to play right away. I didn’t think he would. We thought he would be here earlier. Both of us. It’s a set back. We need to give him time and confidence. We have great players who are ready to compete in his position.”
Nevertheless, while Vermaelen could well go on to star for Barca over the coming seasons once back on the pitch, it's hard not to envisage Arsenal being declared the clear winners of this deal in the future, given his questionable fitness record.