Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen is a shock transfer target for Serie A side Napoli.

The Belgian defender was given the armband after the departure of  Robin van Persie at the start of the campaign having cemented himself as the natural leader of Arsenal's back four.

But inconsistent form and a couple of high profile mistakes during the second half of the season has cost him a place in the side recently.

The 27-year-old has not shied away from the criticism he has received.

"I have made mistakes. If I  played flawlessly in all the matches I  would be Lionel Messi. As a footballer you know what may happen when you play badly", Vermaelen told The Metro.

"I'm not worried though - it's only the last games, I have played about 35 times this season. This is Arsenal, they are not a bad team and there is  a lot of competition," he insisted.

But Arsene Wenger's reluctance to rely on Vermaelen during a crucial run in that eventually led to final day qualification to the Champions League suggests Vermaelen has fallen a long way down the pecking order.

Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have built a formidable partnership and Vermaelen may now struggle to regain his place next season.

Vermaelen's international future is no longer certain either and he will need to play first team football if he wants to be part of Brazil 2014 plans.

Barcelona have been long term suitors of Vermaelen but there interest has waned after his recent dip in performances. But Napoli have not been deterred and are rumoured to part with up to £10 million as they are due to have significant transfer funds available after the imminent departure of Edison Cavani.


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