Frank de Boer’s quest to strenghten his Crystal Palace squad has taken him to Catalunya and Belgian international, Thomas Vermaelen, 31, is his prize, reports the Sunday Mirror. The Barcelona defender spent last season on loan at Roma and is deemed surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou.
The former Arsenal defender’s career suffered badly through injury and he hasn’t made more than 20 league appearances in a season since 2012-13. The extent of his problems is laid bare in the total of 25 appearances since leaving in 2014. Neither Barcelona nor Roma where he spent last season on loan, saw the best of the centre back.
Signed from Ajax in 2009, Vermaelen became an instant hit with Arsenal fans, scoring 7 in 33 appearances. His star waned with the Emirates crowd as the Gunners struggled defensively and few mourned when he left for Barcelona in a £15m deal.
It proved to be good business. 14 appearances for the Spanish giants since then, underlines the extent of his misfortunes. A loan spell with Roma last year included the option for a pemanent move which the Italian club has, so far, declined to take up.
His fitness record suggests the move would be risky for Palace but de Boer, who was youth manager at Ajax while Vermaelen was in the Amsterdam club’s first team, will welcome the Belgian’s experience as he looks to push Palace beyond mid-table obscurity.