Thomas Vermaelen joined Barcelona in 2014..

Arsenal linked with shock move for Thomas Vermaelen

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Arsenal fans were left fearing another injury crisis when Per Mertesacker was ruled out for five months with a serious knee injury.

Arsene Wenger described it as "losing a heavyweight" from the dressing room but promised to make up for it by signing an "experienced defender" before the transfer window closed.

Well, that was some relief for the Gooners, who quickly became excited by the prospect of a new international star at the Emirates. Links with Valencia star Shkodran Mustafi were right up their street with many of them agreeing that he was the perfect man to shore up a flimsy defence.

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However, Valencia have already guarded against losing the former Everton star by inserting a €50million release clause into his contract. Even in today's world, that is a heavy price to pay for Arsenal and a deal is still very much over the horizon.

So Wenger is naturally looking at alternatives. Catalan newspaper Sport believe Barcelona flop and former Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen is second on the shortlist. That's right, the man Wenger sold after season after season of injury problems is back on his radar.

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Return of the captain

Most Arsenal fans were absolutely delighted to see the Belgian leave for £15million in 2014. He had barely played in each of the last two campaigns and, when he did play, struggled to form a partnership with either Laurent Koscielny or Mertesacker.

He has also since struggled at Barcelona where he made just one appearance in his debut season and just 17 more in the next campaign. Overall, he has started seven La Liga games. Ouch. As a result, Barcelona are ready to sell the 30-year-old this summer and Arsenal appear interested in a deal. 

But enthusiasm for that deal does not stretch outside of the Emirates boardroom. Arsenal fans have made their feelings perfectly clear on Twitter, describing it as typical Wenger penny-pinching while their critics are calling it the most Arsenal transfer rumour ever.

Liverpool v Arsenal - Premier League

Take a look at the reaction below:

Never fear

A follow-up report from the Evening Standard claims to have spoken to Arsenal sources to try and shed some light on the shock rumour. Although the club refused to release a statement on the one rumour, it was made clear to the London newspaper that a deal for Vermaelen is highly unlikely.

Mustafi remains a target with reports in Valencia claiming an opening bid for €18m has been rejected. Valencia, however, are not holding out for the release clause and could sell for as little as €25m.

Perhaps Wenger does know what he is doing after all.

Tottenham Hotspur v Arsenal - Premier League

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Jack Wilshere
Thomas Vermaelen
Theo Walcott
Premier League
Arsene Wenger

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