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Roma After Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen?

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According to sources in the English and Italian media, Walter Sabatini may be looking to gamble on Arsenal's oft-injured defender, Thomas Vermaelen.

Julian Finney

While Italy has one week remaining before the 2013-2014 season bows out gracefully, the silly season waits for no man. We all love transfer rumors, they get us excited, upset and intrigued, but as Roma fans, this summer may be unlike any other we've ever experienced. Not only are the Giallorossi flush with Champions League cash, but they enter this particular transfer market with something they've seldom had in the past; an actual long-term plan with viable ambitions. Imagine that.

With that in mind, Roma's first purported transfer target is Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, for whom Walter Sabatini is reportedly ready to cough up nearly €15m. Vermaelen is an intriguing, albeit injured option, so let's run a quick pro-con analysis for this somewhat beleaguered Belgian.

Why It Makes Sense

Quite simply, when healthy, Vermaelen is a solid defender, one who has excelled in both domestic and European competition. Although his 2013-2014 season was essentially erased due to a series of knee injuries, Vermaelen threw together three pretty successful campaigns for Arsenal between 2009 and 2013, during which time he was generally good for two tackles and two interceptions per game, while completing approximately 86% of his passes. Vermaelen has also chipped in 14 goals across all competitions during his four plus seasons at the Emirates, so he's not merely a statue out there.

Despite his injury woes, once he returned to action in March, Vermaelen was a pretty consistent presence in Arsene Wenger's lineup, turning in five straight 90 minute performances from late March through early April. He would also bring the added bonus of being able to play as an emergency left-back, which is certainly an added bonus around Rome, in case you hadn't noticed.

Is he the second coming of Paolo Maldini? No, of course not, but he would slot in quite nicely behind Mehdi Benatia and Leandro Castan, and would give Rudi Garcia some much needed experience in European play, an arena in which he has excelled compared to his Premiership performances. Additionally, at 28-years-old, were this transfer to come true, Roma would reap the rewards of Vermaelen's prime years.

Besides, both Roma and Chiesa di Totti have had recent success with Belgians, so there's that.

Why It Doesn't Make Sense

There are three mitigating factors when discussing this fictional transfer.

While we just credited Vermaelen with finishing the season strong, the fact remains, he has only made 16 appearances across all competitions this season, and has missed significant time with both knee and Achilles tendon injuries, the latter of which nearly cost him the entire 2010-2011 season. In fact, only once in his Gunners career has he accumulated more than 30 league appearances, so while he is a solid and experienced option, a dependable one he is not.

Okay, anyone who follows the Premiership knows Vermaelen is a talented but injury plagued option, but why else should we scoff at this move?

At a reported price tag of €14.2m, Vermaelen is not the cheapest option on the market, particularly not for one who would essentially be a third option. Don't forget, this is roughly what they paid for Benatia last season; Champions League or not, can Roma justify spending that much on a reserve? And we haven't even factored in his €4.2m wages; needless to say, bringing in recruits from the world's most moneyed league is never a cut and dry affair for a club with a self-imposed salary cap.

Finally, and following form our previous point, might there be better and cheaper options on the market? We've already discussed a couple in our Raiding the Relegated series--Luca Antei and Nicolas Spolli--so, if we view Vermaelen's place in this squad as purely a third option, he may prove to be cost prohibitive, particularly with cheaper and younger options available--both abroad and in-house.

Likelihood: 4/10

If he can prove that he is fit once and for all, Vermaelen would make a fine addition to Roma's defensive corps, and at 28-years-old, the club would stand to benefit from his physical peak, but his injury history, not to mention his cost, probably make this rumor more fiction than fact; quite simply, there are cheaper and more reliable options out there.