Vermaelen provides solid base

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Arsene Wenger is convinced new defender Thomas Vermaelen can provide a "solid" base on which to help build Arsenal's challenge next season.

The Belgian international, 23, has signed a long-term contract with the Gunners after agreeing what was reported to be a £10million move from Ajax.

"Thomas is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and UEFA Cup football and is also a regular with the Belgium national team," the Arsenal manager said.

In capturing the six-foot centre-half, who can also play on the left, Wenger has moved quickly to strengthen a squad which was often exploited at the back last season - when Arsenal eventually recovered some consistency to finish in fourth place, meaning they will have to come through a play-off to reach the group stages of the Champions League.

Vermaelen has European experience with Dutch side Ajax, indeed he faced the Gunners during the 2005/2006 campaign.

Wenger is in no doubt of the qualities Vermaelen will bring to Emirates Stadium.

He added: "Thomas is primarily a left-footed centre-back, but he is multi-functional and can also play at left-back.

"He is strong technically with a positive winner's attitude and I have no doubt his arrival will strengthen our team.

"Thomas Vermaelen will be a huge asset to Arsenal."

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