Thomas Vermaelen has signed a new long-term contract, lessening fears that he would be part of a player exodus as his current contract reached the final 12 months. Vermaelen, currently recovering from an achilles problem, said he signed the contract because he believes the club has a great future, and because he wants to repay the club:
I feel great here, it's a fantastic Club and that is why I want to stay here. I played my first year here, had a big injury last year and then got injured again. I want to show something back to the Club and to the fans and that is why I want to stay longer.
"Of course you cannot look into the future but I have a big belief that this Club will continue doing well. We had a bad start in the league but I think if we fight hard we will get through this. In the following years Arsenal will stay a big Club.
Hopefully, Vermaelen spends most of the next 4 years (the rumoured length of the contract) fit and healthy. With him, Arsenal as a team become much better, winning 63% of all matches with him compared to 47% without him. While those stats are sometimes misleading (i.e., Arsenal had a worse winning percentage when Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie played together, which doesn't make sense), they seem true here. With Vermaelen, Arsenal's defence is better, they attack and defend set pieces better, and are better overall as a team.
While Laurent Koscielny has flourished without Vermaelen, having him back is a major boost to our chances in finishing in the top 4 this season, and perhaps higher in the next few campaigns. When fit, Vermaelen is on the best centre backs in the Premier League, and would be a good signing for any club. Therefore, it's a good sign that he's re-signed with the club, and not let his contract run down a la Samir Nasri. Now let's just re-sign Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott.
Vermaelen stats (via WhoScored and EPLIndex)
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