To the best of Thomas Vermaelen’s knowledge, being Arsenal captain doesn’t involve shouting at under-performing players, rallying his troops with skin-tingling team talks, or even calling heads or tails in the pre-match coin toss.
No, if quizzed as to what responsibilities the role entails, the Belgian centre-back would reply: “Well, erm, you have to keep those weird race car seats we have in the dug out nice and toasty.”
Fed up and disillusioned, Vermaelen is ready to pluck this particular feather from his cap and book a one-way ticket out of north London this summer, leaving Arsene Wenger dangerously short of cover for Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.
The frugal Frenchman is hoping to draft in a world-class frontman (a £5m offer for Lionel Messi is one he’s thought to be mulling over) and doesn’t want to squander precious pennies on backing up his defensive ranks.
These circumstances have seen him take a shine to Serbian free agent Nemanja Pejcinovic, who will be bidding Nice adieu when his contract expires at the end of the month.
Formerly of Red Star Belgrade and Hertha Berlin, the 26-year-old has established himself as one of the most consistent centre-backs in Ligue 1 since joining the Riviera club and, as a result, now fancies a crack at the Champions League.
Reports in the Express suggest that Arsenal – 10/1 to win the 2014/15 Premier League – are as keen as Colman’s finest, but face competition from moneybags Monaco, who can offer more dead presidents, as well as a greater chance of first-team football next term.
Dislodging Mertesacker and Koscielny from the Arsenal starting line up will prove near impossible for the Serb if the more reputable Vermaelen hasn’t been able to achieve it, but Les Rouges et Blancs have plenty of starting opportunities up for grabs.
Following Eric Abidal’s retirement, the weathered Ricardo Carvalho remains the only senior centre-half on the principality club’s books who made double-figure league appearances last time around.
The need for both bulking and freshening up in this field is essential as Monaco prepare to return to Europe’s leading club competition, which could see Pejcinovic remain in Ligue 1 next season ahead of opting for Arsenal.