Thomas Vermaelan reportedly is set to join former teammate Andres Iniesta at Japanese side Vissel Kobe after leaving Barcelona as a free agent.
Barcelona have seen their fair share of arrivals this summer and are now about to see the future of one of their recently departed seasoned stars decided. Marca are reporting about defender Thomas Vermaelen’s impending move to the J1 League, where he will join Vissel Kobe and be reunited with a few of his former Barcelona teammates, including Andres Iniesta.
Andres Iniesta was the first of the three former Barcelona stars to join Vissel Kobe, the others being David Villa and Sergi Samper. The trio will soon be joined by former Arsenal and Barcelona defender Vermaelen, who is set for a new journey in the far east.
Vermaelen’s contract with Barcelona ended on June 30 this year, and for the 33-year-old there seems to be no future left in Europe. Despite his successful time, first with Ajax and then Arsenal, where he was a consistent starter for both clubs, things did not pan out as well at Barcelona.
Vermaelen went on to feature only 53 times during an injury-hit five years at Barcelona. Due to the riches of defensive options available at Camp Nou, Vermaelen even went on a loan spell to AS Roma in 2016. Overall, his time with Barcelona cannot be deemed as a successful one, despite Vermaelen having accumulated plenty of accolades over the last half a decade.
This transfer has plenty of influence of Vissel Kobe chairman Hiroski Mikitani, who had a similar telling when he brought Iniesta to the club. Mikitani also happens to be chairman of Rakuten, Barcelona’s official sponsors, which has provided him enough of a clout to conduct such deals.
Back to Spain and Barcelona have made some massive improvements to the side. The signing of Antoine Griezmann headlines Barcelona’s summer. Ajax academy product Frenkie de Jong has also joined the La Liga champions after agreeing a deal back in January. Their summer spree has also seen them bring in Valencia goalkeeper Neto.
Vermaelen, who was once considered one of the best defenders in Europe, fell prey to injuries and bad timing on career decisions. His Arsenal career was going fine, but the lure of Barcelona, coupled with bad luck and injury simply ruined his time in Spain. He now has the chance to play regular football away from the strenuous pressure of Europe, with Andres Iniesta for company in Japan.