Arsenal star should be Man City's top summer target

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Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen's difficult situation at the Emirates is from a secret, with the Belgian international failing to convince Gunners boss Arsene Wenger that he deserves to disrupt the fine central defensive partnership of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny on a consistent basis.

Vermaelen has made just three Premier League starts this season in a frustrating campaign to date, which has left the former defensive linchpin of the Emirates in a very difficult position in terms of considering his long-term future.

The 28-year-old must surely be weighing up which club will offer him consistent first-team opportunities at the highest level next summer, but if his agent is actively pursuing an alternative next summer surely Manchester City must be in the frame.

City's defensive deficiencies in Vermaelen's position were there for all to see last night, with Martin Demichelis caught short by a brilliant Barcelona breakaway in a moment that will likely settle their Champions League last-16 tie.

Vincent Kompany is without question one of the best centre-backs in the world, but City will not be able to fully realise their enormous potential unless they provide their captain fantastic with a reliable, long-term partner.

Manuel Pellegrini's search for defensive recruits in the close season will encompass finding a number of attributes, top-level experience, organisational presence and above all the ability to defend competently and send the ball forward with minimum fuss.

Vermaelen is a defender that ticks all those boxes at his very best, despite an alarming dip in form following persistent injury problems in recent seasons at the Emirates.

Arsenal fans have fond memories of Vermaelen's initial impact following his arrival from Ajax in 2009, playing with verve, purpose and the ability to bomb forward menacingly in the final third on occasion.

City continue to be linked with an outlandish £35m bid for Porto defender Eliaquim Mangala this summer, with money for the right players no problem for Pellegrini.

The Chilean tactician should look close to home before splashing out that kind of money on an unproven, if immensely talented French international though, with Vermaelen definitely available for a fraction of that fee and with a point to prove to the whole Premier League.

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Thomas Vermaelen
Manchester City
Premier League

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