Barcelona centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has said he made a mistake staying at the Camp Nou in the summer, and he could reportedly earn a January transfer away from the Catalans in order to find more game time.
Per Het Laatste Nieuws (via Sport), the Belgium international said he hoped remaining at Barca would be a good move, but he has concluded it was not after being handed just one Copa del Rey appearance so far in 2017-18: "In the summer I thought it would be positive to stay at Barcelona, but after seeing how my situation is here, I've seen that's not the case."
Sport's report explained the 31-year-old was convinced to stay by new manager Ernesto Valverde, but it now seems highly likely he will leave the club in the winter transfer window, and he has been linked with RSC Anderlecht.
The upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup is likely at the forefront of Vermaelen's mind. He continues to be picked for Belgium and started in their 3-3 draw with Mexico on Friday.
But his prospects of playing a key role in Russia will be minimal if he stays at Barca past January and continues to be overlooked for minutes.
Vermaelen moved to Barca from Arsenal in 2014, but his time with the Blaugrana has been largely disappointing. He has made only 11 La Liga appearances for the club and was loaned out to AS Roma last season.
Meanwhile, Barca have been dealt a blow in their reported pursuit of Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after the youngster's agent, Barry Hulshoff, said he will not leave the Dutch outfit this season.
Mundo Deportivo (via Juan Jimenez of AS) recently reported Barca were planning to move for the 18-year-old in January.
However, Hulshoff has now insisted De Ligt will not leave Amsterdam until next summer at the earliest, per Ziggo Sport (via Calciomercato.com): "We mean to remain at Ajax at least until next summer."
Barcelona are quite short on depth in the centre-back department and will be even more vulnerable to any injury issues if Vermaelen departs in the new year.
De Ligt would be an exciting addition to the Barca back line after establishing himself as a first-team regular at Ajax and earning a call-up to the Netherlands national side. But it seems clear he will not be available until next summer.