Thomas Vermaelen has revealed that Barcelona denied him a move back to the Premier League this summer.
The injury-plagued defender returned to the Nou Camp in the summer after finishing last season on loan at Roma.
Desperate for first-team football, the 31-year-old ex-Arsenal star was keen on leaving the La Liga side for more game time.
Everton, Crystal Palace, Watford and West Brom were all keen, along with Anderlecht in his homeland, to snap-up his services.
But Vermaelen, who married his stunning partner Polly Parsons in June, says Barcelona told him firmly he was staying put.
He told Derniere Heure: “The club told me I couldn’t leave, I had to stay despite the future of various clubs.
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“Now I am not playing, so I am in a difficult situation. I can’t play with Barça B, where I could get some form because the Spanish legislation doesn’t allow it. It’s a regrettable situation.”
Vermaelen is currently on international duty with Belgian as they prepare to finish their World Cup qualifiers against Bosnia and Cyprus.
And with Vincent Kompany missing through injury, he is in line for some match action at last, and he is hoping to enhance his prospects of being selected at Russia 2018 next summer.
He added: “Of course I would like to play more [club] football to be in a good rhythm with the national team.
“Vincent’s not here and so I have a bigger chance of playing.
“It would be a positive, of course, if I could return to Barcelona having played some minutes, that way they’ll see that I’m ready if they need me.”