Thomas Vermaelen could become the first Barcelona player to leave the La Liga giants during the upcoming January transfer window after reports in Spain claimed that Anderlecht are keen on acquiring his services.
Earlier this week Sport reported that the La Liga giants were ready sell the Belgium international as well as Arda Turan and Paco Alcacer after the trio have been overlooked by new manager Ernesto Valverde during the opening part of the season.
And the Spanish publication now says that Vermaelen could be the first to leave with Anderlecht being ready to offer the Belgium international an escape route from his nightmare spell at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona recruited Vermaelen from Arsenal in the summer of 2014 in a deal worth around €19m. The Belgium international was expected to partner Gerard Pique in the heart of the defence following the retirement of Carles Puyol.
However, Vermaelen was restricted to only 21 appearances in his first two seasons at Barcelona, being hit by different injury problems since his very first day in La Liga.
The Belgium international was sent on loan to AS Roma last season with hopes to resurrect his career but he also failed to make the impact expected in the Serie A, making only 12 appearances during the whole campaign.
Watford, Everton and Besiktas were linked with his services in the summer but the player surprisingly stayed at Barcelona to serve as the club's fourth choice centre-back following the release of Jeremy Mathieu.
Yet, the former Arsenal star is yet to play a single minute for Barcelona in the opening part of the season and last week suggested that he could consider leaving in January in order to increase his chances of making the World Cup.
"The national team boss [Roberto Martinez] says that the lack of playing time is not a problem at the moment but that he would take it into account from March onwards, when we will be close to the tournament. Who can predict if I will be still not playing at that time? Or if I haven't left the club during January transfer window?" Vermaelen said from the Belgium camp.
Sport said earlier this week that Barcelona would also like to part ways with the 31-year-old centre-back and now the Spanish publications claims that such a move could be closer than ever due to Anderlecht's interest in luring him to the Belgium league ahead of the second part of the season.
Anderlecht are said to be looking to bolster their back-line and Sport says that the Barcelona out-of-favour could be an ideal candidate given he wouldn't need time to adapt to the city or the language.
Barcelona are also expected to let him go on the cheap but the Spanish publications says that the Catalans will need first to sign another centre-back or promote someone from the academy to fill his role in the squad.
Yet, Valverde only has three other centre-backs at his disposal in the form of Pique, Samuel Umtiti and Javier Mascherano after in the summer they also decided to send Marlon Santos on loan to Nice.
In this sense, other reports in recent days have claimed that the La Liga giants are considering bringing forward the arrival of Yerry Mina to the January transfer window as the Catalans have a first refusal to sign the Colombian centre-back for only €9m.