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Would Adil Rami be an upgrade or downgrade on Arsenal's Vermaelen?

Thomas Vermaelen Pre FA Cup Press Conference

With Thomas Vermaelen’s Arsenal future in doubt, the Gunners have been linked with a move for Valencia-owned defender Adil Rami.

Wembley Stadium bore witness to a bit of history on Saturday evening as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by winning the FA Cup against Hull City in dramatic fashion.

Aaron Ramsey capped off a comeback from 2-0 down with an extra-time winner to secure a 3-2 victory and bring silverware back to the Emirates for the first time since 2005.

But as Ramsey consolidated his rise to prominence in 2013-14 with some late heroics, captain Thomas Vermaelen spent the day looking on from the bench - his vantage point for most of the season.

The Arsenal club captain started just seven Premier League games this term as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have struck up an unbreakable centre-back partnership.

And Vermaelen’s future in North London is uncertain, his agent confirming earlier this week that a slew of Italian clubs are after his services.

Should the Belgian ultimately leave this summer, Arsenal will certainly need a replacement - Koscielny and Mertesacker are the only other central defenders in the squad.

Adil Rami, on loan at Milan from Valencia, has been tipped as a possible replacement in recent weeks. The Rossoneri are keen to sign the Frenchman permanently, but are reportedly unwilling to pay Valencia the prearranged buy-option fee of €7m - meaning he could be available.

The question is, would Rami be an upgrade or downgrade on Vermaelen?

Rami has been solid, if unspectacular, during his time at San Siro and brought a measure of stability to a Milan defence that was in crisis before his arrival.

He’s a hard-tackling defender and good in the air as his size would suggest, though Rami’s positional play could be better and his lack of pace can be exploited.

These two weaknesses could be an issue in Arsene Wenger’s system, as Arsenal’s defenders often find themselves playing a high line.

While Vermaelen is somewhat error-prone, he has excellent tactical awareness and the speed to chase down attackers if need be, so holds an advantage over Rami in this regard.

It is also worth noting Vermaelen’s strong connection to Arsenal. He has played under Wenger for five years and as captain is an undisputed leader, even with his lack of minutes.

In a broad view, it could be said that Vermaelen is a superior option for Arsenal in comparison to Rami. The Belgian’s characteristics better suit the Gunners’ game, and he is a long-time servant of the club.

The sticking point is that Vermaelen may decide that being third-choice at the Emirates is not good enough at this point in his career. But if that does not turn out to be the case, Arsenal could certainly do worse than Rami for a replacement; a France international available at relatively low cost.

Holding onto Vermaelen would be the ideal scenario, but short of that Rami could provide experienced cover for Mertesacker and Koscielny without breaking the bank.

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