Thomas Vermaelen: Three possible centre-back replacements

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Trust me when I tell you that it’s an exciting time to be an Arsenal fan. First the FA Cup victory in May and then the recent 3-0 drubbing of Manchester City at the Annual Community Shield game.

And yes of course, need I even mention the exciting Chilean that has arrived from Barcelona? Although there has been an arrival from the Camp Nou, Arsenal fans have had to deal with the fact that the Catalan club has again signed one of our captains.

Thomas Vermaelen, signed from Ajax in the summer of 2009, went on to captain Arsenal for two seasons after the departure of Robin van Persie. Although he can now boast of wearing the captain’s armband at a top club, the past two years have been quite eventful for the Belgian.

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Injuries and the emergence of a top-class partnership between Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker have seen him relegated to the bench, getting to play a few games here and there, despite being club captain.

Unhappy with these events, Vermaelen has decided to leave Arsenal and head to Barcelona, who have paid £15 million for the ex-Ajax man.

Arsene Wenger has made defensive recruitments this season, but both have been right-backs in the form of Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers, of whom only the latter can effectively deputise in the centre.

Should Le Professeur dip into his transfer budget another time, to bring in defensive cover?
Here’s a look at three defenders who could prove to be good replacements for Vermaelen.

1. Kostas Manolas

The Greek defender who represented his country at the World Cup in Brazil, has done very well for his club Olympiakos after signing for them only two years back from AEK Athens.

Manolas is only 23, but has already established himself as one of the top young defenders in Europe with his consistent performances in both the Superlig and the UEFA Champions League.

He has been linked with a move to the Premier League in the past, but nothing has come of it. Serie A champions Juventus have also been linked with the 6’1 man, so Wenger might have to act fast.

It is said that he would command a transfer fee of around £8 million, which Arsenal can easily afford.

2. Matija Nastasic

The young Serbian is currently on the books of Premier League champions, Manchester City. Having signed for the Citizens on transfer deadline day in 2012, Nastasic has never established himself in the City starting XI. He has just made a combined total of 34 league appearances in two years, scoring one goal.

His task of getting a first-team spot has now been made even harder, after City recently signed Eliaquim Mangala from Porto. City would surely look to sell him and Arsenal should pounce at a chance like this and bring the Serbian to the Emirates.

He would certainly be a like-for-like replacement for Vermaelen as he too is left-footed and can also cover at left-back.

Manchester City would look to demand a transfer fee of around £15 million, which would be money well spent as Nastasic is still 21 and has a good 10-12 years of football left in him.

3. Benedikt Howedes

The Schalke captain, who was recently crowned world champion along with the German national team is said to be keen to move to the Premier League after 13 years with the Gelsenkirchen club, making his professional debut in 2007.

The 26 year old, who is equally capable of playing in either wingback position, would certainly settle in well at the Emirates, given the number of Germans currently on the Red Side of North London.

Whether Howedes would risk leaving Schalke and coming to Arsenal to warm the bench, remains to be seen. Certainly seems the most unlikeliest transfer of all the three options. 

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Thomas Vermaelen
Premier League

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