Thomas Vermaelen admits he was “stunned” that Barcelona wanted to sign him in 2014, while Arsenal didn’t fight to keep him.
Vermaelen made the switch to La Liga giants Barcelona in the summer of 2014 in a deal worth £15million, including add-ons.
The centre-back made 150 appearances for the Gunners in a six-year spell, but he made only seven starts in his final season at The Emirates before making the switch to the Nou Camp after struggling with injuries.
That fact didn’t put off Barca, who had to fork out £3million to Arsenal as part of the Vermaelen package after they made the Champions League final, but it certainly caught Vermaelen by surprise.
“I was stunned, to be honest, in the same way that I was surprised when I was given a chance in the first team at Ajax as a youngster and when Arsenal came calling a few years later,” Vermaelen told the December 2015 issue of FourFourTwo.
“It’s every footballer’s dream to play for such big clubs, so of course I was excited. My situation at Arsenal helped to speed up the negotiations. I only had one year left on my contract, so it was their last chance to receive a transfer fee. And since I hadn’t played much, they weren’t really reluctant to let me go.”
Vermaelen, who has made six appearances for Barca this term, says he is loving life in Catalonia: “Everybody at the club has been great.
“When the players started warming up in shirts displaying a message to support me, after my surgery, I was flabbergasted. I knew nothing.
“I don’t consider myself to have won trophies because I didn’t play,” he says. “Let’s hope that we can repeat that success this year while I’m part of it.”