As Barcelona gets ready to play its third La Liga game of the season against Atlético Madrid, one player has been the star of this young season: Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen left all of his injuries behind and is again a top performer for his team and the national team. Before his third straight start for the Blaugrana, he spoke to Barça's website in one of the best interviews you can read today. Take a look and get to love The Verminator even more:
You’ll be 30 in a few days’ time. Are you where you expected to be both professionally and personally?
"It’s hard to say. I can’t predict the future. If they had told me ten years ago that I’d be playing for FC Barcelona, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m very happy with how my career has gone and the clubs I’ve played for".
You’ve been in Barcelona for a year. How’s your life here?
"My life in Barcelona is great. I’ve settled in. I needed a little time to adapt. I was injured for a year and that wasn’t easy but me and my family feel very happy. The weather is incredible. It wasn’t so good in the other countries I’ve lived in but the climate is perfect here".
What is Thomas Vermaelen like in close-up?
"People who know me say I’m quiet and laid back. That I don’t like to make a fuss. I try to stay calm and not get angry".
You had a great preseason and the season has started well. How are you feeling?
"The preseason was very important. For any player it’s fundamental to get through it without any problems. And that’s why my start to the league has been better".
What was your first year at Barça like?
"It was very difficult for a lot of reasons but mainly because I was suffering from injury. You come to a new club and want to prove your worth, but you can’t because of an injury. And I had to adapt to new things. A new life, new coach, new city. It was tough."
What did you do for away games?
"I watched all of the away games. I tried to watch as many Barça games as I could, to get to know the Liga better. It’s very different to the English Premiership. I watched Liga games because I wanted to get to know the players and teams and therefore adapt more quickly".
The game against Deportivo la Coruña was an important one for you last season because you made your comeback. How did that feel?
"It was an incredible day. It was a very special match, and very intense for me because I was returning after a long injury. Getting to play at least one game before the season ended was very important for me".
Now all that is in the past. What are your hopes for the new season?
"It’ll be a very long season. The ambitions are the same. We won the treble last season and we know it won’t be easy to do it again, but we’ll try to. We have the same team. Our ambitions are intact and we’ll do all we can, game by game, and see what happens".
Do you have any special targets this season?
"I want to play as many games as possible. I’m at a big club and it’s not easy to get a game. But I want to improve as a player and play as much as I can".
People often compare the football played by Ajax, Arsenal and FC Barcelona. You’ve played for all three. Are they that similar?
"Yes, it’s a similar philosophy. They’re teams that want to play football, to avoid physicality and long balls, just keep the ball on the ground and try to score as many goals as possible, creating lots of chances".
Where do you prefer to play?
"My favourite position is centre of defence, that’s where I’ve played most games. When I was young, about 10, I played in midfield. I remember that I sometimes played left-back. It was at Ajax that I switched to centre-back".
Who is the hardest player to mark?
"There are quite a few. At Arsenal I came up against some great forwards like Drogba and Rooney. I’ve played in the Champions League against Messi and he’s very hard to mark".
Who is the best player you have ever played with?
"That’s easy. Messi".