Report: Napoli push for Arsenal man

Napoli are continuing their efforts to sign Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen and are preparing to table an improved offer, Il Mattino claims.

Napoli's interest in Arsenal club captain Thomas Vermaelen is well known and the Partenopei seem to be upping their efforts to bring the Belgian to the Stadio San Paolo.

Rafa Benitez enjoyed a highly successful start to the season at Napoli but the Azzurri lost momentum somewhat towards Christmas and their title challenge has fizzled out.

Yesterday's 2-2 draw with Bologna again highlighted Napoli's fragility in defence, which Benitez is keen to address in the winter transfer window.

The ex-Liverpool boss knows the English game well and has reportedly targeted the signature of either Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic or Arsenal man Vermaelen.

Il Mattino reports that Vermaelen has already agreed in principle to moving to Napoli, finding himself on the fringes of Arsene Wenger's side and being desperate to secure a place at the World Cup this summer.

However, the two clubs are yet to come to an agreement on the fee and there is allegedly a significant gap between Arsenal's valuation of the player and Napoli's offer.

Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon is said to be ready to follow up a rejected offer with a larger bid to be presented to Arsenal shortly.

It could be that a paid loan deal for the rest of the season is the most mutually beneficial solution as it would allow Vermaelen to get game time, wouldn't require Napoli to break the bank and would give Arsenal the chance to bring him back into the fold if needed.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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