Vermaelen signs new Arsenal contract

BY foxsports • October 18, 2011

Belgium center-back Thomas Vermaelen signed a new long-term contract with Arsenal Tuesday, boosting the Premier League club as it struggles to recover from the exits of playmakers Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.

The 25-year-old Vermaelen's contract was due to expire in the summer of 2013, which would have left Arsenal in a difficult position had he not agreed a new deal by the end of this season.

"Our plan is always to sign top-quality players and with Thomas extending his contract, we have done just that," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

"Thomas is a special player, who has always made a huge contribution on the pitch."

The north London club didn't disclose the length of Vermaelen's new deal.

The Belgian defender enjoyed a superb first year at Arsenal following his move to the Emirates from Ajax in 2009, but missed almost the whole of last season because of an injury to his Achilles in his right leg. He is currently out of action with a left ankle injury.

"I always had the intention to stay here," said Vermaelen, who captains his national team. "I feel there is a big belief in me from the club, from the boss and from the fans and that is one of the reasons why I stayed."

The north London club has struggled to 10th place following the sales of Fabregas to Barcelona and Nasri to Manchester City.

And Wenger earlier claimed "half the dressing room wanted to leave" Arsenal in the summer.

"It was a very difficult summer because half the dressing room wanted to leave," Wenger said in comments made on French radio station RTL and reported by the Guardian.

"You're preparing for a season where you don't know who's going to come in, the players who are staying are asking themselves what's going on at the club, you've got a pre-season tour of Asia.

"It was extraordinarily difficult. What saved us is that we're a club that are extremely solid and united. Other clubs would surely have gone to pieces in those circumstances.

"What people forget is that we lost three key players because we've also lost [Jack] Wilshere. Three who were important in our midfield. Nasri, Fabregas and Wilshere have all been lost and they were the basis of our midfield last season.

"We've had to reconstruct our midfield entirely because Wilshere won't be back until January. Still, we've disappointed this season so far, given what's expected of us, but I think we're on the up again."

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