It has been announced that Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen will be captaining Arsenal on the pre-season tour in van Persie’s conspicuous absence. He will lead the team out for three games against Malaysia XI, Manchester City and Kitchee FC.
He was named as vice-captain of the club last summer after Fabregas left, and many expect him to be named as the new captain due to van Persie’s impending departure.
Thomas is now entering his fourth year at the club, and recently signed a contract extension along with making the following statement in May of this year (from ESPN):
“I will stay at Arsenal forever. There will be no transfer for me. I love London. I’ve got a house there, I’m happy there and I don’t see any reason to ever leave the club.”
Not many players make these sorts of statements; not many players stay at one club for life nowadays. Vermaelen could be one of those players who is a little bit different, and if that is the case then he could be a great captain. Well, at least he won’t be a captain that leaves after a year or two with that role…
But is he the best man for the job given who we have at the club? There are, currently, eleven players who have featured more times for club than Vermaelen. This doesn’t make them more qualified to be a captain – far from it. But it is worth looking at our experienced players and asking whether or not they will be better skippers. The fact that we’ve used our captaincy in order to keep our “best” players – Henry, Fabregas, van Persie – implies that Wenger isn’t necessarily choosing the player most suited to the job.
We don’t have the knowledge of players’ personalities in the same way as Wenger does, but we do know those players that seem the most vocal on the pitch, those that are most likely to stay at the club for a while, those that are definite first-team members, those that have experience and those that will be excellent figureheads for the club.
The players with more appearances than Vermaelen are van Persie, Walcott, Sagna, Song, Rosicky, Diaby, Bendtner, Denilson, Djourou, Arshavin and Ramsey. However, many of these are unlikely to be here next season (RvP, Walcott, Bendtner, Denilson, Arshavin) or probably won’t be regular starters (Diaby, Djourou, Ramsey). That leaves Sagna, Song and Rosicky. All seem like decent candidates for captaincy. We should also consider relative newbie Arteta – he has had a superb calming influence on the team and was a fantastic signing last summer.
Personally, I see Vermaelen as a great choice, but I also feel Arteta could be our skipper. Although he seems less vocal, he has all the credentials to fulfil the role and he will almost certainly finish his career at the club. Despite Vermaelen’s comments, he is only 26 and could easily be lured away later in his career. I don’t think it is good for the club to see all our captain’s being bought by other clubs. We need stability in this role like we had with Adams – he was captain from the age of 21 until he retired 14 years later.
So who do you think should be our captain? Give your choice in the poll below.