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BARCELONA

Vermaelen gets his chance in key top-of-the-table clash

The Barça dressing room praised the qualities of the Belgian defender, who is set to provide cover for Gerard Piqué (suspended) and Javier Mascherano (injured) against Valencia.

Update:
Vermaelen en un entrenamiento.
FERNANDO ZUERASDIARIO AS

Defensive cover

"It's a shame he's had so many injury problems because he's a great centre-back", are the words that surface when talking about Thomas Vermaelen, the forgotten centre-back in Barcelona's squad. Against Valencia on Sunday evening - LaLiga's mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash - the Belgian defender is set to partner Samuel Umtiti in the centre of Los Culés' defence, providing cover for the suspended Piqué and the injured Mascherano.

A part to play

This campaign, the central defender has played more minutes for Belgium (270 over three games) than Barcelona (90 minutes in a cup game against Murcia). However, Ernesto Valverde believes Vermaelen has a role to play, further backed up by the Barça coach's insistence on the ex-Arsenal player remaining in the summer. "He has little to prove. Injuries have broken his rhythm, but he is a very good player; a great defender that ticks every box required to play for Barça," those inside the club have said. 

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FERNANDO ZUERASDIARIO AS

An injury-ridden career

Unfortunately, Vermaelen is better known for his injuries than magic moments on the pitch. Andoni Zubizarreta signed the defender in 2014, claiming he would be a player that would "perform immediately", words that have haunted his progress. Since becoming a professional footballer, the Belgian centre-back has not completed a full season. 

Vermaelen's injury record:

2014-15: 235 days sidelined
2015-16: 70 days sidelined
2016-17: 87 days sidelined
2017-18: 25 days sidelined.

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