Belgium boss Marc Wilmots has sent out a warning to Thomas Vermaelen and others, claiming they risk their place at the World Cup should they not feature regularly for their respective clubs.
Vermaelen has played second fiddle to first choice duo Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker this season, but featured in the Gunners last Premier League fixture – the 1-0 loss to Manchester United. This has been his only Premier League start this campaign, having been restricted to Capital One Cup outings with Wenger preferring the German/Frenchman combo.
Opportunities will be difficult to come by for the Belgium defender to feature week in, week out for Arsenal unless injury strikes, however so far he has remained committed according to his recent statements.
Belgium qualified top of their group in spectacular fashion, winning eight of their ten matches and drawing two. They finished nine points clear of runners-up Croatia but suffered back to back losses in the current international break, falling to a 3-2 defeat against Japan on Tuesday and went down 2-0 to Colombia last week.
This naturally did not go down well with Wilmots, and led him to discuss the issue that surrounds the lack of regular gametime for Chelsea’s Kevin De Bruyne, Moussa Dembele of Tottenham and Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen.
We first have to settle the problem that players play for their club. December and January will be important even though I have little impact on it.
We will be dependent on the choice of players, who have to play for their club to get match rhythm. Otherwise life would be too good to be true.
The rhythm of a couple of players that no longer play (regularly) with two matches in five days that is immediately obvious.
We have quality, but quality needs match rhythm. You need matches, minutes of play. If you don’t play, and sit in the stands, it becomes difficult.
It would appear the issue is perhaps more focused on De Bruyne and Dembele, with Vermaelen recently assured of his place in the World Cup squad. But with Belgium’s recent slump the Belgium boss may have changed his stance.
It is a tough predicament for Vermaelen who could quite easily be restored as a regular should an injury occur. He’s captain of the club and is a more than able defender, but has been overshadowed by ‘Kosacker’ of late.
The Belgian’s have been without Vincent Kompany of late which meant Vermaelen was able to slot in for both friendlies, and realistically he is just too good not to be in their squad for next summers tournament. He is one of their best defenders and will get game time for the Gunners from now until May even though he may not be a regular. It is vital for the Gunners that they keep the Verminator on their books for the season run-in.