Barcelona are weighing up the situation of Thomas Vermaelen, with a reported view to a summer bid.
Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen is on the shortlist of Barcelona as they seek a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol.
David Luiz is claimed to be their number one choice, but with Chelsea currently reluctant to sell and quoting a price of 35 million, it makes sense for La Liga champions to consider alternatives.
According to Spanish newspaper Marca that is what they have done, whittling it down to three.
On their shortlist is Real Sociedad defender Inigo Martinez, Porto's Eliaquim Mangala, and Arsenal's out of favour Thomas Vermaelen.
The paper report: "Vermaelen is one of the players who has been linked to Barcelona since it embarked on the search for a centre back two seasons ago. Since then, the club has remained interested in this Gunners player and the club's technical department likes him a lot."
They go onto add that Vermaelen recently commented he wants to stay at the Gunners, but the reality is if he does not find his way into the first team by the end of the season, a move to a club as glamorous at Barcelona will appeal.
The table below illustrates the minutes played in the Premier League this season by Vermaelen compared to his central defensive partners.
Losing another captain to Barcelona would inevitably provoke negative headlines for Arsenal, but in this case it will not be nearly as damaging as previous departures like Cesc Fabregas or Thierry Henry.
The Belgian has not been the same player he was in his first seasons at the club for more than 18 months, and at 28, if Arsenal can net a decent fee of around £10 million for him, it won't be bad business.
Vermaelen with his keenness to venture forward and attack will also likely be a good fit for Barcelona. A departure will be an inconvenience for Arsenal, but there are several talented central defenders such as Kurt Zouma, Cheikou Kouyate and Matthias Ginter the Gunners could look to sign in his place.
image: © ronmacphotos