Barcelona defender Thomas Vermaelen is expected to be on the sidelines for around four weeks after picking up an injury to his calf muscle during the game against Levante over the weekend.

Vermaelen pulled up in the second period of Barcelona’s 5-0 win at the Estadi Ciutat de Valencia, and was replaced by Arthur after just 52 minutes on the clock.

Tests were later carried out on the player after the game, showing that the Belgium international had torn a muscle right in his right calf and will not be able to feature anymore for the Catalans until January at the earliest.

The Belgium international, who was just making a return from a hamstring injury which he picked up earlier in the year, has started just five matches for the Spanish giants in all competitions this season.

With Samuel Umtiti also out with a knee injury, it leaves Barcelona with just Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet as options in the heart of the defense.

Vermaelen made the move to Barcelona from English club Arsenal in 2014 but has been plagued by numerous injury problems since arriving at the Nou Camp. The centre back will be out of contract at the end of the season.

A statement released by Barcelona on their official website read:

The first team player Thomas Vermaelen felt a problem in Sunday’s game away at Levante. Tests carried out on the defender show that he has a torn muscle in his right calf and will be out for around four weeks.”

Vermaelen has already missed almost two months this season due to a recurring hamstring injury and is unlikely to feature for Barcelona for the rest of 2018.

The La Liga champions will host Celta Vigo in their last game before the mid-season break, before returning in January for action in the La Liga against Getafe and Eibar.