Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen hopes to make his long-awaited debut with the Catalan giants in April after a nine-month injury lay-off. The former Arsenal captain has been out of action since sustaining a hamstring tear last summer while playing for Belgium at the 2014 FIFA World Cup™.
Vermaelen moved to Barça last summer in a £15m deal, and the injury has kept him waiting to make his first appearance with his new club.
“I’ve taken a big step forward,” Vermaelen wrote on his Facebook page. “I’m happy to be back running. It’s great to be back training outdoors instead of in the gym. I want to return stronger than before. I want to thank the club and the medical staff for the work they have done. In two weeks I will return stronger.”
Vermaelen, who signed a contract until 2019 with Barça, admits he never anticipated such a lengthy absence.
“I sustained the injury at the World Cup and in the hospital in Brazil they said I would only be sidelined for ten days,” he said. “Barça then noticed the injury during a medical. They told me I had two options, to undergo surgery, which was not necessary, or to do specific exercises to strengthen that area.
“I opted for the latter but in the end, it didn’t work out and I underwent surgery (November 2014). I have followed the recovery programme set by the surgeon and everything is working well. I feel I have the backing of my team and of the club. I feel right at home. I just want to return to play as soon as possible. I still have not been able to play in an official game with Barça.”
Vermaelen, 29, has plenty to look forward to with Barça still alive in three competitions. The Catalan giants lead the Spanish La Liga standings and have already reached the Copa del Rey final, where they will face Athletic Bilbao on 30 May. Luis Enrique’s men host Manchester City on Wednesday in their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg.