Sources: Barcelona place transfer bid for Arsenal defender Vermaelen

The 28-year-old Belgian defender failed to secure regular playing time with Arsenal last season. 

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Sky Sports sources understand Barcelona have moved ahead of Manchester United in the race to sign Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.

Vermaelen’s future at Arsenal has been the subject of speculation all summer, with the Belgium centerback entering the final year of his contract at the Emirates. Manchester United and Barca are both thought to have expressed an interest in Vermaelen, but now the Catalan club have firmed up their interest with a £10 million bid for the 28-year-old.

Barca are looking to bolster their defensive options after Carles Puyol retired earlier this summer and they are hopeful of beating United to Vermaelen’s signature. Vermaelen is no longer first choice at Arsenal, with Wenger preferring the centerback pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny last season.

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Wenger also revealed last week he could not to be certain Vermaelen would stay, as he could not guarantee the defender first-team football. Vermaelen started just seven Premier League games last term and it seems the player is keen to move on. The Arsenal boss has already spent over £60m on the signings of Mathieu Debuchy, Alexis Sanchez, David Ospina and Calum Chambers and the Frenchman is confident of making more additions to his squad.

Asked whether he expects Vermaelen to remain at the club next season, Wenger said: "At the moment, he is here. It could happen. Yes, it’s a possibility that he goes and if he goes we have to replace him because he is an important player in our squad."

Wenger added: "I expect him to stay but of course he did not play enough games last year. For me he is a very important player but I couldn’t give him the games that he wanted last year so I will see."