Arsenal’s Belgian centre-half Thomas Vermaelen has finally confirmed he requires surgery to rid him of the Achilles injury that has dogged him since August.
The Gunner’s defender, who signed for around £10 million in the summer of 2009, has missed most of this season due to the injury, although he did attempt to play on through the pain in September. Vermaelen, Belgium’s captain, had already attempted to come back from injury three times, including during his country’s matches against Germany and Turkey in which he played a full part despite suffering throughout.
He will now head to Sweden where he will be operated on by Hakan Alfredson later today. The specialist has already worked with AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will be hoping the surgery is as much of a success as Ibrahimovic’s, previously of Dutch club Ajax where Vermaelen was signed from, was.
It is expected that he will be out for a further five weeks following the surgery, thus ruling the defender, who has so far scored seven goals in the Premier League for the Emirates Stadium club, out of his side’s crucial last 16 tie against European Cup holders Barcelona in the Champions League. However, if Wenger’s team can come through that set of matches, which will be no mean achievement, they could well be seeing the return of their powerful centre-half at just the right time.
Arsenal are currently still fighting on all four fronts, although the next few weeks could define their season as they take on Ipswich Town in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final, in which they currently trail 1-0 after the first leg; Leeds in an FA Cup third round replay at Elland Road; Barcelona in Europe; and they still hold hopes of mounting a charge on the Premier League summit.
The return of a fully fit Vermaelen will be crucial to their success in the latter stages of these tournaments, if of course they still find themselves with an interest in any of them come his return in around five weeks.