Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen has been reportedly sidelined from AS Roma’s plans as he is set to undergo surgery for sports hernia. The former Gunner defender arrived Roma on loan from Barcelona sometime this summer but has only managed to feature in three games for Roma, with one of them lasting for just 41 minutes in a Champions League preliminary at Porto, before he was sent off.

Injuries are not a new thing to Vermaelen. However, this sports hernia has been a thing of concern for the 30 year old since early September. A correspondence from Corriere dello Sport newspaper has said Roma sought the inputs of specialist and they believe a surgery might well be in place.

This, when eventually confirmed, might end up seeing the centre back head off back to Barcelona by January so as to begin the rehabilitation process. Roma are currently paying the Belgian’s wages, even though they did not pay for the loan.

In the light of this however, the Giallorossi are already shopping for a new player to replace Vermaelen. Roma are looking to sign Porto defender Felipe, according to reports from Portugal.

The Brazilian had just before his move to the Dragoes in the summer, spent four years with Corinthians. Roma’s interest in Felipe could have been during the Champions League playoffs, in the match against Porto back in August, which ended in a 2-0 defeat for the Giallorossi. Coach Luciano Spalletti had been privileged to watch the 27-year-old centre back closely and developed interest in the Brazilian after that.

With the doubts over Vermaelen’s fitness following his sports hernia, Felipe could be his ideal replacement when the Belgian heads back to his parent club, Barcelona.