Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Barca set to beat United for Vermaelen

Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen
Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen

Thomas Vermaelen is close to a £15m move to Barcelona. The Belgium defender could complete a move to the Nou Camp over the weekend.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger suggested the club's preference was to sell the defender abroad, rather than to a domestic rival, with Manchester United rumoured to also be interested.

Vermaelen made 21 appearances for the Gunners last season as niggling injuries and the form of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker limited his impact.

Wenger said: "Have we received bids? Yes. I can't tell you who from but you will know very soon.

"Are Man United one of the teams to have made an offer? I think they could be in the group.

"Ideally, yes, we would like to sell him abroad and that is an option for us."

Meanwhile summer Alexis Sanchez is set to make his competitive debut for Arsenal against Manchester City in tomorrow's Community Shield.

Sanchez could be one of three debutants for the Gunners at Wembley, with Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers also available. New goalkeeper David Ospina is a doubt with a thigh problem.

Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski do not return to training until Monday after being given extra rest following their World Cup triumph with Germany last month.

Meanwhile Arsenal will meet Turkish side Besiktas in the Champions League play-offs.

They will travel to Istanbul for the first match in the week beginning August 18, with the home leg taking place the following week.

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