Arsenal defender Vermaelen on Barcelona shortlist

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is one of three Premier League names on the shortlist of Spanish side Barcelona as they step up their search for a centre-back, the Daily Mirror has reported. Chelsea’s David Luiz and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany are also being considered by Barca.

Barcelona are said to have made Athletic Bilbao’s Javi Martinez their primary target but if the Spain international, capable of playing in defence or midfield, is not available, it is likely new Barca Coach Tito Vilanova will turn to the Premier League. Barcelona are understood to be worried that Martinez’s asking price will be too high for them, which would force a change in direction to Vermaelen, Luiz or Kompany.

Vermaelen has been at Arsenal since 2009 and was named the club’s vice-captain last summer. Luiz, meanwhile, joined Chelsea in January 2011 from Benfica and was part of the side that clinched the Champions League trophy in May 2012, while Kompany also lifted silverware at the end of the season, having inspired City to the Premier League title.

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