Thomas Vermaelen: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims he is 'ready' to offer a new contract to the Gunners captain

But the defender has only started three league matches this season

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that he is "ready" to offer club-captain Thomas Vermaelen a new deal at the end of the season, amid reported interest from West Ham and Napoli.

Vermaelen, whose current deal runs out in the summer, has cut a frustrating figure at the Emirates Stadium due to the flourishing centre-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and has started only three Premier League matches this season. Wenger, though, does not want to lose the Belgian international from his squad.

"I am open to it," the manager told "I am ready to extend his contract. We want Thomas Vermaelen to be happy and have the number of games a player of his class deserves.

"On my side, I have a high respect for his qualities and attitude and I am ready to extend his contract."

Wenger added: "At the moment we’re all on board for something this season that is respectable. At the end of the season I can sit down with Thomas and see what he thinks about it."

Fellow Gunners' players Tomas Rosicky, Per Mertesacker and Bacary Sagna are also out of contract in the summer, and Wenger revealed that he is closer to extending their contracts, but they are not completed yet.

"That [the new contracts] is very, very, very close," he said. "Not for all of them but for most of them."

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