Thomas Vermaelen says he was surprised by Barcelona's training intensity
Thomas Vermaelen has revealed that the training sessions at Barcelona were way more intense that he'd expected or been a part of at while at English giants, Arsenal. The Belgian says he was shocked at the intensity of the pressing his new teammates enforced in training.
Vermaelen joined Barcelona from Arsenal in the summer of 2014 for a fee of €15m but has rarely made the squad due to the plethora of injuries that have curtailed his Catalan career. Fit now, Vermaelen could face his former club and describes how his training sessions are at Barcelona.
"The first thing I noticed here was the intensity of the pressing," Vermaelen told the Telegraph.
"The pressure is on straight away when we lose the ball. We do a lot of positioning games, focusing on getting the ball back. The pressure the players put on you is incredible, you have no time on the ball."
The Belgian also explains how the squad partake in something called a 'Rondos' – where players form a circle and pass the ball around making sure a single player inside the circle doesn't come in contact with the ball. This exercise helps players in reading the situation and making the right pass.
He said: "We always do it at the start of training, it doesn't only warm you up but it’s a training session in itself, you try to keep the ball in possession and make the guys in the middle do the pressing.
"We did it sometimes at Arsenal but not a lot of clubs do it like we do it here. It's a tradition. Even if we have a game in the evening, we come here in the morning and do a rondo."
Unfortunately, I had to leave Arsenal: Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen spent five years at North London winning only one FA Cup but insists he still has 'warm memories' at the club – a club where he was captain.
"I watch a lot of Arsenal games because I have warm memories of the club, and because they are a very attractive team," he said.
"I watched the Leicester game last week, it was very stressful but these are the most beautiful games to win.
"Now the title race is wide open, if they hadn’t won it would have been more difficult but now it’s on. I always said at the start that Arsenal had a big chance to win it.
"Unfortunately we had to go our separate ways but luckily I signed for a beautiful club like Barcelona."