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Thomas Vermaelen joins Japanese side Vissel Kobe from Barcelona

Thomas Vermaelen has called time on his five-year Barcelona spell by joining Vissel Kobe on a deal that runs until December 2021.

The 33-year-old, whose career has been severely hindered by injuries, links up with former Barca team-mates Andres Iniesta and Sergi Samper, ex-Blaugrana man David Villa and one-time Arsenal cohort Lukas Podolski.

Vermaelen joins the J-League side on a free transfer after his contract with the La Liga giants expired, having been pushed down the pecking order for a spot alongside Gerard Pique by the arrivals of French defenders Samuel Umtiti and Clement Lenglet, while Marc Bartra and defensive midfielder Javier Mascherano were often preferred options at the heart of the defence as well.

The Belgian made just 53 appearances in all competitions in four seasons in Catalunya, spending the 2016-17 campaign on loan at Serie A outfit Roma, playing just 12 games.

His time at Arsenal was more successful, however, making 150 appearances, winning the FA Cup, scoring 15 goals and taking the captain’s armband before injuries took their toll following his departure from the Premier League in 2014.

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