Another Arsenal star attracts Barca interest
Arsenal could be set to lose a THIRD player to Spanish giants Barcelona within two years, according to reports.
The Sunday People claims Gunners captain Thomas Vermaelen could follow former team-mates Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song to the Nou Camp.
According to the newspaper, Barcelona are searching for a successor to Eric Abidal, who recently spent time in hospital following issues relating to a liver transplant last April.
It is claimed Barca are unsure Abidal will be able to compete at the highest level again because of his troubles, but at 33, they could look for a long-term successor regardless.
Vermaelen succeeded Fabregas as Arsenal skipper in 2011 when the midfielder rejoined his hometown club, and Barcelona have now made checks on him, the newspaper claims.
The Belgian defender signed a new four-year deal at the Emirates Stadium in October 2011, but it remains to be seen whether a move to the Catalan giants would prove too tempting to turn down.
Barcelona are so keen to land Vermaelen they may be willing to offer striker David Villa in part-exchange, according to the newspaper.
Arsenal were keen on Villa in January, and although the Sunday People claims manager Arsene Wenger has now moved on to look at other striker targets, the newspaper claims Barca will try to reignite his interest if it helps them get Vermaelen.
The newspaper goes on to claim that Barcelona have around £40million available to spend on new signings in the summer, and plan to increase that figure by selling Villa, Adriano and Cristian Tello.
Arsenal are likely to fight to keep hold of Vermaelen, though, and will want to appease fans with a successful summer transfer window.
Their season is currently lurching from one crisis to another, and yesterday’s 1-0 home FA Cup loss to Championship side Blackburn Rovers was a particularly low point.
The result means the Gunners will now almost certainly extend their run without a trophy to eight years, unless they pull off an improbable Champions League triumph.