Arsenal should sell Thomas Vermaelen and cash in on the error-prone defender this summer. A recent report from The Daily Express suggested FC Barcelona could pursue a £15 million summer move for the Gunners skipper.
That's money Arsenal can't turn down, especially considering Vermaelen's struggles during the last two seasons. The Belgian stopper quickly became popular with the Arsenal faithful after joining the team in 2009. His passion and determination provided a boost to a largely sluggish squad.
However, the problem is Vermaelen has always been a defender blessed with more enthusiasm than skill. That's not an indictment of his technique on the ball. Certainly his initial eye for a goal and thunderous left-foot shot, prove Vermaelen is a threat in possession.
However, his defensive acumen is suspect. The chief issue is that Vermaelen has no subtlety and composure in his game. Yes he is aggressive, but he doesn't have control of that tenacity.
That leads to many ill-judged and badly timed actions. Vermaelen will often take himself out of possession with reckless lunges toward advancing forwards. Or he will take a wild swing at the ball, when a more measured and precise clearance is needed.
Suggestions that Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has ruined Vermaelen by making him captain, have little credibility. After all, Vermaelen also captained former club Ajax. In fact, it was his form as skipper of the Dutch outfit that earned Vermalen a lucrative move to the English Premier League.
The harsh reality is that Vermaelen simply has not progressed as a top-level centre-back. He has not refined the rough aspects of his game, to add a thoughtful precision to his combative style.
Supporters of Vermaelen would no doubt reference the lack of protection provided by Arsenal's slight and scattered midfield. While there is some truth to this argument, Vermaelen is first failing to dominate his own areas of responsibility.
His reckless abandon is too often a liability, rather than an asset. Vermaelen needs to be paired with a steady, composed defensive partner. This was surely what Wenger was trying to do when he signed the more cerebral Per Mertesacker to play alongside the Belgium international.
It's clear Wenger must retool his squad this summer. A report in The Daily Mail recently speculated that Vermaelen could lead the clear-out. Selling him for a handsome fee is a move Wenger must make so he can recruit a more technically skilled and less gung-ho centre-back to organise his defence.