Vermaelen will have to win his place, Barcelona coach says

Reuters , Monday 27 Apr 2015

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique (Photo: Reuters)

Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen will have to win a place in the team like any other player now that he finally appears to have put his long-term injury woes behind him, coach Luis Enrique said on Monday.

The Belgium centre back sustained a hamstring injury at last year's World Cup in Brazil before he signed for Barca, prompting some to question why the club completed the deal to sign the 29-year-old from Arsenal.

He eventually needed surgery and has yet to make his debut for the La Liga leaders but Vermaelen has been given the all-clear by Barca medical staff and has returned to full training.

"Vermaelen is back, which is great news and his team mates welcomed him with a big round of applause because they know what it is like to be injured," Luis Enrique told a news conference previewing Tuesday's league game at home to Getafe.

"There is competition for his position and I am sure he will be able to help us," added the former Barca and Spain midfielder.

"Beyond that it's the same situation as always. We have 23 squad players know instead of 22 and it's a (selection) problem for the coach and not the players.

"They need to continue doing what they have been doing, what I have been emphasising since the start of the season, which is winning their place on the pitch.

"I repeat, they all deserve more minutes but they know their profession and they know what they have to do."

Vermaelen, who will compete for a place with the likes of Marc Bartra and Jeremy Mathieu, is a useful addition to the squad at a crucial point of the season.

Barca are chasing a treble of Champions League and domestic league and Cup titles, a feat they achieved in 2009 under Luis Enrique's predecessor Pep Guardiola.

They are two points clear of second-placed Real Madrid in La Liga with five games left, through to the Champions League semi-finals where they face German champions Bayern Munich and will meet Athletic Bilbao in next month's King's Cup final.

"Winning tomorrow's match (against Getafe) is fundamental," Luis Enrique said. "After that I don't know what will happen. But first we will chase the three points available tomorrow, which are crucial." 

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: