Vermaelen linked to Arsenal exit as Barcelona increase interest

New Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has reportedly instructed sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta to prepare a bid for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, according to the Daily Mail.

The man chosen to succeed Pep Guardiola has already added one defender to the Barcelona ranks, in the shape of Jordi Alba, who has signed from Valencia. Now it seems centre-back Vermaelen is the next transfer target as Vilanova looks to make his mark on the La Liga side.

The Barcelona boss has earmarked the 26-year-old Belgian, after failing to sign AC Milan star Thiago Silva, who signed a new deal at the San Siro last month, and though Vermaelen is now the preferred choice.

It is not known if Tito Vilanova plans to disrupt the pairing of Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique or whether there will be a new centre-back to join in a position that is not Barcelona’s strongest, though any move for Vermaelen would have to be an attractive bid for Arsenal to consider selling their prize asset.

The Belgium skipper has three years remaining on his contract at the Emirates Stadium and there could be cause for him to move to Barcelona to link up with former Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

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