Feb 4, 2014, 10:46 AM EDT
After a season of woe and sitting on the bench as his Arsenal side sit top of the Premier League standings, Thomas Vermaelen is rumored to be on his way out of the Emirates.
Vermaelen, 28, has played in just 11 games for Arsenal this season as the Belgian national team team captain has gone from skipper at Arsenal to back up, following the emergence of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as Arsene Wenger‘s first-choice center back pairing.
According to reports Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg are willing to give Vermaelen an escape ladder from his nightmare in North London.
With the World Cup looming large, Belgian boss Marc Wimots is sweating on Vermaelen being at the peak of his game to help Diables Rogues become the dark horses of the tournament as the former Ajax academy product is the leader and heart of Belgium’s defense. At Zenit fellow Belgian international Axel Witsel and Nicholas Lombaerts would welcome Vermaelen, but can Arsenal really afford to let their third-choice center back go?
Vermaelen is said to be settled in North London since his move from Holland in 2009, but is growing increasingly worried as Mertesacker and Koscielny form an indomitable partnership at the heart of Arsenal defense that has more clean sheets (11) than any other PL team this season and has let in just 21 goals in 24 games.
With Jan Vertonghen, Vincent Kompany, Daniel Van Buyten and several promising youngsters to fight with for a starting spot at the World Cup this summer, Vermaelen is desperate to go to the big dance in Brazil after becoming a prominent figure for Belgium and Arsenal in the past few seasons.
Should the talented Belgian defender make a loan switch to try and play regularly before the World Cup? Or should he stay put at the Emirates to wait for a chance to shine?
It will be a tricky decision for Vermaelen to make. Which comes first, club or country?
- Official: Andrea Pirlo announces his arrival at New York City FC (video) 9
- GLORY IN PHOTOS: Our favorite shots from the USWNT’s winning evening in Vancouver 1
- CONCACAF lays out reform plan post-scandal: “People are right to be skeptical” 1
- Carli Lloyd proves she’s the Women’s World Cup hero she always knew she would be 1
- Mission accomplished: Abby Wambach gets her World Cup title 1
- United States wins third Women’s World Cup title, beats Japan on record-smashing day 26