According to reports surfacing from the Liverpool Echo early on transfer deadline day, Everton manager Ronald Koeman is lining up a surprise last-gasp bid for Barcelona’s Thomas Vermaelen.
The 31-year-old has struggled to find his feet since moving from Arsenal to Barcelona in 2014, managing just 11 appearances in three years, and it’s expected that he’ll be leaving the Nou Camp.
And the Dutchman has reportedly set his sights on the former Arsenal man as he looks to bolster options in his defence, with Everton looking to take Vermaelen on-loan with a view to buying him.
What could the ex-Arsenal man bring to Goodison Park?
After an arduous three years since leaving the Emirates it’s hard to remember just how good the Belgian was at his peak, dominating in the Premier League and leading the Gunners from the back.
During his 150 appearances in north London he showed his capabilities at the back week-in, week-out, coming across incredibly powerful up in the air and being notoriously fearless in the challenge.
Despite entering the latter days of his career at 31-years-old he could undeniably still do a job for Everton, and still have the upper body strength to hold onto the ball and push on into the midfield.
One thing his time at Barcelona – and his season-long loan at Roma – would have done is developed his ability on the ball, initiating intricate passing exchanges to get his team out of trouble, and Koeman will no doubt have this in mind as he looks to get his new-look Everton team properly firing.
Vermaelen’s wealth of international experience also stands him in good stead for a return to the Premier League, making 59 appearances for Belgium, and he’s a man that can benefit a dressing room too.
Yet the thing that would have attracted him to the Everton manager most is his versatility, most notably his ability to play as a full-back as well as a left-sided central defender, and with a potentially demanding Europa League campaign lying ahead of them this year Everton need all the strength in depth possible.
As last-minute speculation goes this is certainly one of the more feasible moves, with Barcelona keen on letting Vermaelen leave, and with Everton already making an enquiry it’s now up to the La Liga side.