Thomas Vermaelen joins Barcelona: Arsenal captain completes £15m move to Barcelona as Manchester United miss out
Vermaelen was struggling to get into the Arsenal first team and has signed a five-year deal with Barcelona
Saturday 09 August 2014
Barcelona have completed the £15m signing of Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen after fending off Manchester United in the race for the Belgian defender, agreeing a five-year deal "subject to the "subject to the completion of the normal regulatory process".
Vermaelen joined the Gunners in 2009 from Ajax, taking on the captains armband three years later following the sale of Robin van Persie to United. However, Vermaelen has fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates and no longer appeared to be in manager Arsene Wenger's plans.
Current first-choice defenders Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have formed a strong partnership that kept Vermaelen on the bench more often than not, and having done well to return from a long-term injury, the 28-year-old struggled to play regular football.
Wenger admitted that he understood the need for Vermaelen to be playing regularly, and when he was speaking on Thursday appeared to confirm that Vermaelen was on his way out of the club.
United were favourites for his signature, but Arsenal's desire not to see another of the players heading to Manchester saw them demand Chris Smalling in return, and Louis van Gaal elected not to follow up his interest in Vermaelen, leaving the door open for a move to the Nou Camp where he will have the difficult task of replacing the retired-Carlos Puyol.
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In a statement released on the club's website, Barcelona confirmed the capture of Vermaelen as the Catalans continue their summer recruitment driver.
Ir read: "FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Belgian player Thomas Vermaelen. He joins the Catalans on a five-year deal."
Vermaelen made 150 appearances for the Gunners over a five-year spell, showing a talent for scoring in his early days at the Emirates as he notched eight of his 15 goals for the club in his first season.
A serious injury limited him to just five Premier League appearances in 2010-11, before he battled back to fitness to regain his place in Wenger's team and eventually the Arsenal captaincy.
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