Arsene Wenger says Belgian’s absence from pre-season tour is a result of injury.
Arsene Wenger has insisted Thomas Vermaelen will remain as club captain next season – even though he is unlikely to a first team regular.
The Belgian is expected to miss the start of the season with a stress fracture to his back and has been left out of the Gunners’ pre-season tour of Asia.
More importantly, the 27-year-old found himself behind Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscileny in the pecking order at the tail end of last season, starting just one Premier League match of the club’s final ten – deputising for the suspended Mertesacker against Norwich City.
Arsenal have been strongly linked with Swansea City centre-half Ashley Williams, prompting speculation that Vermaelen could be allowed to leave this summer.
The Belgium international will want to be playing regularly ahead of World Cup year but Wenger says Vermaelen’s absence from the club’s tour is purely down to his back complaint.
“It depends,” Wenger told the Guardian. “I cannot stick with him now because I think he will miss the start of the season. But certainly, he will still be the club captain. He had a back problem.
“He came in with it and he couldn’t practice until now. He’s out for how long we don’t know. There is nothing behind that at all. There is no bad feeling because he didn’t play at the end of the season. It’s just an unfortunate injury.”