Arsene Wenger claims to be 'ready' to extend the contract of Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen amid speculation the Belgian, who has been used infrequently this season, could leave the club.
Vermaelen has played a minimal role in the Gunners' ascension to the summit of the Premier League table, starting just three matches, and is now regarded as the club's third-choice at centre-back.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have forged a successful partnership at the heart of the Arsenal defence and, with the club never having lost a came when both have completed 90 minutes, only injury would offer Vermaelen a way back in.
Wenger, though, is hopeful he can retain the services of the 28-year-old, whose current deal is set to expire at the end of next season, and is prepared to offer Vermalen a new contract.
Arsenal are reported to have received an approach from Napoli for the transfer of Vermaelen, but Wenger rebuffed the attempts of the Serie A club to prise the player away from the Emirates Stadium.
Vermaelen signed from Ajax in the summer of 2009 and has made 140 appearances for the club, while be became captain following the departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United.