Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans, try not to lose any appendages while celebrating the 240th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, our very own 18th century #Brexit. So, before you start inhaling hotdogs, funneling Bud Lights or making mincemeat out of those pies, let’s take a look at Roma’s latest rumored defensive reinforcement.
In a move that’s sure to leave Jonas smiling, the connections between Roma and want away Barcelona defender and the pride of Belgium, Thomas Vermaelen, have grown dramatically over the past few weeks. The logic is obvious: Vermaelen has big game experience, Roma needs a centerback and Vermaelen needs consistent playing time if he has a shot at making World Cup 2018.
While all the usual outlets have picked up on this story, the Spanish newspaper Sport, which I can only assume is actually called Deportes, is the first to put some actual numbers behind the rumors. Specifically, Sport claims that Roma has offered €8 million for Vermaelen, some two million short of Barcelona’s valuation of TV.
So, you may be thinking to yourself, €10 million for a 30-year-old defender, what’s the catch? To which I would reply, where the hell have you been the past three years?
After making over 100 appearances and scoring 14 goals for Arsenal over parts of four seasons, Vermaelen made a big money move to the Nou Camp, jumping to Catalonia for €19 million in the summer of 2014.
So Vermaelen made a seamless jump, right? He’s the Lionel Messi of Barca’s defense, isn’t he?
Sure, if you call 14 appearances over two seasons Messi-esque, then yes, he’s been fabulous. To call Vermaelen brittle would be an insult to the word itself. All told, TV has missed 48 matches since moving to Barcelona, some 240 days of missed action, having been held out by a myriad of maladies including calf, thigh and hamstring issues, the latter of which required surgery and kept him out for nearly 6 months on its own.
What’s more troubling are the nature of the injuries—calves, hamstrings and thighs—all areas that tend to linger; if these were clean breaks or ligament tears, honestly you’d have to feel better about his chances for long term recovery, right? Thighs and hamstrings have ruined many a career.
Okay, let’s not dwell on the negative, what would Vermaelen bring to Roma besides tears of joy from Jonas?
Vermaelen has decent size for a central defender, he’s left footed, can play out wide and has excellent touch for a defender, not to mention a penchant for scoring goals; there’s a reason Barcelona was so amped to get him in the first place. Vermaelen, when healthy—and that’s a big if—is a top notch defender, one who uses his speed and intelligence to snuff out attacks, while bringing poise, efficiency and precision to the attacking equation.
If Roma can talk Barca down from their €10 million evaluation—which is a bit absurd given his injury history—and convince Vermaelen to take a pay cut, this could be a HUGE win for the club. Vermaelen can be a stud, and what’s more, he’s coming off a successful Euro 2016 campaign and should be amply motivated to impress Belgium’s next manager ahead of Russia 2018.
This is a gamble, there’s no doubt about that, but given the current circumstances and the club’s inability or refusal to go big in their Antonio Rüdiger replacement, Vermaelen may be our best bet.