The Belgian centre-back and Gunners’ skipper has moved to the Camp Nou for a fee thought to be in the region of £15 million after Manchester United pulled out of a deal to sign the 28-year-old defender.
“If I can find another centre back, I will do it,” stated the French coach following the sale of the club’s skipper.
Despite the signing of 19-year-old Calum Chambers, the Gunners will need at least one more option in defence after letting Johan Djourou leave on a permanent deal with Hamburg where he had been on loan and letting Bacary Sagna leave on a free transfer to sign for Manchester City, but who could be the ideal candidate to come in at the Emirates?
1) Daniel Agger
This 29-year-old Denmark international is widely expected to leave Anfield this summer following the arrival of Dejan Lovren. Wenger could likely sign the Dane for a fee of around £15 million from the Reds and he would be an ideal replacement for Vermaelen given his age, experience and quality. Agger would have the capability to genuinely compete with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as well as providing cover for the preferred pairing should one become injured or suspended.
2) Ron Vlaar
Another Premier League player of the same age is Aston Villa enforcer Vlaar. The Netherlands international is currently being pursued by Southampton, potentially as a replacement for Lovren, but if Arsenal wanted the defender, they could probably divert his attention to the Emirates. Like Agger, he combines age, experience and quality and would provide both competition and cover.
3) Matija Nastasic
However, the signing of Chambers may suggest Wenger would prefer to bring in youth players who can potentially understudy Mertesacker and Kocielny with a view to becoming successors eventually in the backline at Arsenal. This 21-year-old Manchester City youngster has been linked with a move to the Emirates and the Serbian would represent an astute purchase, given his talent and potential as a top prospect for the future.
4) Micah Richards
His Citizens’ teammate Richards has struggled with fitness and form in recent years but the England international in now 26 years of age and will be looking o fulfil his potential, probably away from the Etihad where he is unlikely to be granted regular first team opportunities. A player who has a point to prove can certainly be an asset but his injury record would potentially put some fans, and perhaps the manager, off.
5) Chris Smalling
Finally, claims have bee made that Manchester United’s main reason for pulling out of a deal to sign Vermaelen was the Gunners’ demand that Chris Smalling be included as part of the deal. It remains unknown as yet whether Louis van Gaal trusts the 24-year-old England international and sees him as part of his plans for the Red Devils but perhaps a bid that matches Smalling’s quality and potential could be enough to make his mind up this summer.