By Walter Broeckx
Yesterday I wrote an article about the 3 young left backs we have in our squad and the options they bring to fill the gap that has been made after the departure of Clichy.
But today I want to give you another possible solution also in our team available. Because with Thomas Vermaelen we have the current left back of Belgium in our squad. As I am from Belgium I have seen the Belgium national team play on a few occasions. Albeit with only one eye for the football part of the game as I really don’t like the way they have been playing in the last decades. I usually looked with fear in my heart that Vermaelen might get injured. And in fact he did last season. And this was the reason we lost him the whole season.
But with Vermaelen we have a possible and experienced left back in our team. It is not his favourite position. He likes to play central but as a good captain he does what he is told to do. He is captain of the Belgium national team and undertakes this job like everything he does: with a very serious attitude.
I must admit that I rate him higher as a centre back. But he never lets you down when he plays. Put him in goal and he will not disappoint you. He also played at left back for Ajax on more than one occasion.
People questioned Vermaelen when he first came to Arsenal because he was not tall enough for a centre back. At left back this will not be that important any more. And besides we know he can jump. He will be better defensively in the air compared to Clichy and this might help us in the future as we have seen on a few occasions that the opposition targeted Clichy with high balls in the air. When Vermaelen plays there they will not find it that easy to beat him in the air.
But the gap that Vermaelen then leaves in the middle should be filled. And to fill this gap we could look at one of his former partners at Ajax and in the Belgium national team. And if we think Vermaelen could be a versatile player the same could be said of Vertonghen. And he is even more flexible in his positions. He is also just as Vermaelen left footed and this would be very important for the balance of the team and our defence.
He usually plays at centre back for Ajax and in the Belgium national team. But he also has played at left back in his career at Ajax and Belgium when Vermaelen was out injured. But I must say that when I last checked I think Vermaelen is the better left back from the two. And on top of this he also has played as defensive midfielder at Ajax and also in the Belgium national team.
In fact if my memory is still OK he played in midfield when the Belgium Olympic team played at the 2008 Olympics in China. And he was one of their best players and was one of the players responsible for Belgium finishing in an unexpectedly high 4th place in this tournament.
Vertonghen is bigger than Vermaelen with a height of 1.89m. So no reason to say anything about this for the ones who need to moan about something. He is also a leader and someone who will do anything to please the fans. Including insulting the opposition and their fans after winning things. Sorry Jan but couldn’t leave this out.
Vermaelen and Vertonghen have played together at Ajax for a few years and with Vermaelen being two years older it was Vermaelen who has helped Vertonghen in his first years at Ajax. Since then they are very close personal friends. I know Vertonghen would love to come to Arsenal but it is not just up to the players alone to make such a decision. Ajax will not let him go to Arsenal if they can get more money from another team.
So for once I would say to Arsène if you do want to spend some money I sure wouldn’t be opposed to spending it on Vertonghen.
But it could well be that Wenger has spotted something he doesn’t like from Vertonghen. Or that he knows a reason why Vertonghen isn’t suited for our game. But he is technical very good for a tall centre back, strong in the air, someone that will throw his body in front of the ball if needed. (Oh my god I sound like I am his agent). Okay, I like him and after having seen how Vermaelen could cope with the PL I really do believe that Vertonghen could also be a very good signing for Arsenal.
But at the end of the day, who am I to say who we should buy or how we should resolve any problems we have? I leave it up to the people in the know, to sort the problems. I will be there to support the players on the field. Whoever plays left back.