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West Bromwich Albion are looking at Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen as an option to strengthen their defence in the coming season, according to reports from the Sun.
The Baggies are in the market for a new centre-back, with manager Tony Pulis intent on solidifying his backline further and see the former Arsenal captain as a viable option to add to the squad.
West Brom are a little thinly stretched in the heart of the defence, as they are left with only three recognised central defenders in the squad – Gareth McAuley, Jonny Evans, and Ahmed Hegazy who has joined on loan from Al Ahly only this summer.
Taking into consideration the fact that McAuley is 37 years old and will be turning 38 in December, the club can’t expect him to keep on performing week in week out, despite his top physical ability. So, it is natural that they are on the lookout for a new centre-half before the next season kicks off.
The 31-year old finds himself in a difficult situation at Barcelona after having endured a tough spell since his big move from Arsenal back in 2014. The Belgian international had established himself as one of the best in his positions in the Premier League during his stint with the Gunners, but things went downhill very fast after he moved to the Camp Nou.
A series of injuries one after the other and inability to show good form when fit has meant Vermaelen finding himself close to the exit doors with the Catalan giants. Last season, he was sent out on loan to Serie A club AS Roma, but more injury troubles meant he made only 12 appearances for the Giallorossi and returned back to Barca, with the Italians not interested in making the move permanent.
Since his £15million move to the Catalans, Vermaelen has played only a mere 21 times for the club in over two years and it is unlikely that they would want to keep him at the club anymore. However, West Brom should definitely not look to bring him in this summer.
The Belgian international may have been one of the best in the Premier League in his heydays, but since leaving Arsenal, he has been on a steep decline. His injury records have worsened year after year and even when he has stayed fit, he has looked a very pale shadow of his former self.
Just 33 first-team appearances in three seasons is an extremely poor reflection on his fitness levels and injury-prone nature. Considering the fact that he will be turning 32 in few months, it is unlikely that he will be able to reproduce the kind of form and performances that made him a hit in England back then.
West Brom need a new defender, no questions, but they can do much better than bringing in an injury-prone, ageing Vermaelen, who has hardly played over the past three years. They would be better off steering clear of the former Arsenal captain.