Wantaway Arsenal defender linked with shock move to title rivals

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has once again been linked with a move away from the club, this time with Manchester City lurking.

The Belgian defender arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Dutch side Ajax 2009, and instantly became a fans favourite in North London after making a seamless transition from the Eredivisie to the Premier League, scoring a staggering eight goals in his first season at the club - from centre half.

But Vermaelen has been unable to match that feat, scoring seven goals in three seasons - which is a disapointment after his first season, even if scoring goals isn't his main job in the Arsenal team. His second season was ravaged by injury, and he's been noted for picking up a number of niggles throughout his career with Gunners - which led manager Arsene Wenger to bring in German international Per Mertesacker.

However, Mertesacker's arrival has pushed Vermaelen down the pecking order, and is now third choice behind the former Werder Bremen man and his regular defensive partner Laurent Koscielny - which has led the 28-year-old to consider his future at Arsenal.

Earlier this year, Vermaelen's agent Alex Kroes stated that his client had requested a transfer. "Thomas has told Wenger that he wants to leave Arsenal this summer," he said.

His potential availability has alerted a number of sides, but a new name to consider is Arsenal's Premier League title rivals Manchester City - who have recently snatched Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri away from the Emirates Stadium.

Manager Manuel Pellegrini is actively seeking a natural partner for captain Vincent Kompany in the heart of his defence, with Martin Demichelis, Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic all flattering to deceive this season. Vermaelen is Kompany's centre back partner for the Belgian national team, and it may be seen that the existing chemistry between the two will make for a sturdier back line.

Whether Arsenal would be willing to lose yet another player to City remains to be seen, but with first-team opportunities dwindling, it seems Vermaelen will be leaving at the end of the season - the only question appears to be where to?

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