Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has defended his form this season by suggesting it is only normal for players to suffer peaks and troughs.
Vermaelen, who joined Arsenal from Ajax in 2009, was elevated to club skipper in the summer following Robin van Persie's decision to leave for Manchester United. But the responsibility of the armband has weighed heavily on the Belgian international and he has not matched the form of his first seasons at the Emirates.
Despite his struggles this season, Vermaelen had kept his place in the Arsenal starting line-up but was dropped for last week's Champions League win at Bayern Munich and was again an unused substitute at Swansea on Saturday. Mikel Arteta has replaced Vermaelen as captain.
"I have made mistakes," Vermaelen was quoted as saying by Metro. "If I played flawlessly in all the matches I would be Lionel Messi. As a footballer you know you what may happen when you play badly.
"I'm not worried though - it's only the last games, I have played about 35 times this season. This is Arsenal, they are not a bad team and there is a lot of competition."
Vermaelen would not be drawn on suggestions that he was being tracked by both Barcelona and AC Milan despite his poor form.
"I don't want to go too much into my situation as I am with the national team," Vermaelen told Sky Sports News. "Of course I want to play every game. But you are playing for a big club so you know this sort of thing can happen.
"It has happened before and I am not worried too much. I am working hard every day to do well."