Thomas Vermaelen transfer latest: Mikel Arteta set to be named Arsenal captain as Vermaelen prepares £15m move to Barcelona

Arteta is the current vice-captain and looks to have beaten Per Mertesacker to the armband

Arsene Wenger will resist the urge to hand one of his young guns the responsibility of taking over the captain’s armband as he looks set to name Mikel Arteta as Arsenal’s new skipper.

Thomas Vermaelen looks to be on his way to Barcelona after a £15m transfer was agreed for the Belgian centre-back, with Arteta and Per Mertesacker the leading choices to take over the role. Wenger could look to hand the responsibility to one of his younger players though, with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere potential Arsenal captains for the future.

With Vermaelen on his way, the logic would be to promote current vice-captain Arteta to take the role full-time, having skippered the Gunners for the majority of last season as Vermaelen struggled to break into the first team due to the impressive form of Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

But there are problems with naming Arteta as Vermaelen’s successor. The Spaniard only has a year remaining on his current contract and could leave the club next summer should he fail to negotiate an extension. There is also a chance that he won’t be a regular figure in the team this season with Arsenal looking to strengthen the defensive midfield role that Arteta currently fulfils.

 

With reported interest in the Sami Khedira, William Carvalho and Lars Bender, Wenger looks primed and ready to delve into the transfer market once again. The 64-year-old Frenchman has already spent over £60m on the additions of Alexis Sanchez, Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, but he has admitted that he will look to strengthen the side further should the right opportunity arise.

With doubts over Arteta’s future, Wenger could look to Mertesacker to lead his side as a more long-term option who is a near-certainty for the first team. Arsenal could look to try out Wilshere in Arteta’s position as they look to fit him in to their hugely talented midfield, which could see Arteta pay the price as a result.

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Meanwhile, Vermaelen looks set to head to Spain after Manchester United ended their interest in the Belgium international. Louis van Gaal had been keen on signing the 28-year-old, but they called off negotiations when Arsenal wanted Chris Smalling as part of the deal.

Barcelona director Raul Sanllehi arrivied in London this week and is expected to offer Vermaelen a four-year contract worth around £80,000-a-week. Despite the signing of Chambers, Vermaelen’s departure leaves the Gunners a little light at the back, and they could look to add another defender so they do not have to rely on the likes of Nacho Monreal to play as a makeshift centre-back as he has done in pre-season.

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