Wenger shores up defence with £10m Vermaelen
Saturday 20 June 2009
Arsene Wenger's pressing need for central defensive reinforcements saw him complete Arsenal's first big summer buy yesterday as the Belgium international defender Thomas Vermaelen joined from Ajax for £10m.
In a move which will encourage Manchester City to bid £12m for Kolo Touré, Vermaelen completed a medical at London Colney yesterday morning which set the seal on a four-year deal worth £50,000 a week. The 23-year-old, a regular in the Belgium side with three years' international experience, can play either at left-back or centre-back but it is the latter where he appears to be most needed, despite Milan's decision not to take up a £6.3m option to convert Philippe Senderos's loan into a permanent move.
Vermaelen's arrival at the Emirates will lift City hopes that they might be able to entice Touré to Eastlands. The Arsenal defender was one of their top targets in January but, after initially appearing keen to move north, cooled on the idea.
The former Arsenal captain Tony Adams has raised doubts about Vermaelen's height – he is 5ft 11in – but Robin van Persie is among those who have vouched for the qualities of a player who would leave Wenger less vulnerable for cover if one or both of Touré and William Gallas depart. Gallas has been persistently linked with a move to Juventus and Milan.
Vermaelen joined Ajax in 2003 from Belgian side Germinal Beerschot and has made over 100 appearances for the Dutch club. "Arsenal is a great club with a world-class manager, high quality players and a fantastic stadium," he said yesterday. "I joined this club because I know Arsenal will be challenging for trophies."
Vermaelen explained that Wenger had quickly convinced him of his value to Arsenal. "It was a very short call but I felt the respect," he said. The Gunners hope his arrival will prove their ambition to Van Persie and convince the Dutch striker to sign his new £90,000-a-week deal. "He is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and Uefa Cup football," Wenger said of his new signing.
Wenger admitted last month that his side must shore up their defence. "In the passing quality in the final third and in the opposition half, we are as good as Manchester United," he said. "We have conceded more goals and that is where the difference lies; we have conceded 36, they have conceded 24."
*Chelsea have told Uefa that they will appeal the £85,000 fine and six-game ban handed out to Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa's four-game ban imposed in the wake of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona.
Latest in Sport
Pornhub: Cheeky Liverpool fan uploads Philippe Coutinho wonder-goal video to adult website
Diego Costa keeps coin thrown at him during Capital One Cup final
Lukas Podolski corner: Has the Arsenal forward taken the worst corner of all time?
Why Manchester City could turn to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers if Manuel Pellegrini is dismissed
Ireland 19 England 9 player ratings: Jonathan Sexton? Devin Toner? Alex Goode? Who was the star man in Dublin?
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Licence fee: What is the BBC charge – and how will the changes affect you?
- 3 This is what the photographer has to say about the picture of a weasel riding a woodpecker
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'