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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.

Vermaelen en un entrenamiento.

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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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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