07 March 2013

Vermaelen to Barcelona? Hmm..

Just as soon as I'd finished my promise not engage in transfer-talk, news from The Guardian is that Barcelona are preparing a £15 million offer for the man.  This comes on the same day that Arseblog's Sam Limbert suggests that the captain's armband has become too much of a burden and may be responsible for Vermaelen's poor form to this point in the year. The responsibilities may distract from his own duties, and he may feel additional pressure to overachieve in order to live up to the role once held by Van Persie and Fabregas. Speaking of them, perhaps we should sell Vermaelen if only to keep with tradition. Wilshere slides into the captain's role, and--oh. On second thought...

We've certainly done enough business with Barça recently that another deal would just be one more added to the list. Fabregas's departure was a homecoming, and Song's was more of a selfish, Van Persie-esque trophy grab. The musing over Vermaelen comes at what feels like an opportune time, if only because so many have pundits have asked so many questions about Vermaelen's role and play. Maybe we should send him to Barça but insist on exclusive talks over Valdes and Villa--I'll leave the letter-based jokes for someone else. In other words, yes, we'll send Vermaelen but only if Barca agrees to send us one or both of their players. That's a win-win, right? We get an experienced keeper and talented striker, and Barça gets a defender to replace an aging Puyol with--stop.

If they are trying to replace Puyol with Vermaelen, doesn't that tell us that Vermaelen is good enough to play for Barça, one of the world's best, if not the best? Doesn't that tell us that, despite his slumping form, he's still seen by intelligent football minds as among the best defenders in Europe? They're surely not signing him to simply sit on the bench. That's Song's job, after all. This line of thinking should lead us towards keeping the man. Not only this, but Barça probably sniffs a bargain--"we can purchase him when he's been run down by critics and devalued by fans". The same report in The Guardian suggests that Liverpool's Daniel Agger is worth £20 million. I don't see a gap of £5 million between the two.  If Barça seriously wants Vermaelen, they'd have to do better than £15 million, in my book.

The real issue though is that it just doesn't make sense yet for us to sell Vermaelen. We've already identified defense as an area to strengthen, so it doesn't fit to sell the man, leaving us in need of two new defenders. If we can find two stronger defenders, and the prices work out, then let's do it. I like Vermaelen, but our first priority, to borrow the phrase, is the badge on the front, not the name on the back. That might sound cold, and I don't mean it to, but it's true. I want what's best for this club and hope this means holding onto Vermaelen. I also want a club that will strike fear into the hearts of many when it takes the field.  If we add a keeper and a striker, everyone's form will improve, especially the captain's.