The original report is from the Belgian, Dutch language, Sport newspaper, HLN. Maybe Setanta translated the page differently but according to Google Translate there is no mention that this is a done deal. It looks like Arsenal and Ajax have agreed to a fee (depending on your reading a fee between £10-12m) and that Vermaelen’s agent is in London negotiating salary.
I wanted to know a bit more about the player and there are some famous photos of Vermaelen and van Persie getting into a bit of a scuffle, so I looked into it and that’s from the 2007 Amsterdam tournament where Arsenal won 1-0 and lost van Persie to injury at the end of the match. You will draw your own conclusions about his ability based on that link, but I’m advising caution. Yes, he was brushed aside rather easily by Eduardo in that video, and yes he’s pretty much directly responsible for van Persie’s goal but that was two years ago and as you can tell from this video he’s beefed up quite a bit.
You can also see from the above video that he’s pretty damn good in the air, beating Gareth Barry and Klaas Jan Huntelaar to the ball.
If Arsene buys him I’m sure he’ll be quality. After all, he is Ajax captain and some of the comments I’m seeing from Ajax fans are that he will be greatly missed.
What isn’t being discussed, so far, is which of the two Arsenal center backs he will replace. If you asked me earlier in the year I would have said Gallas, hands down, but now I’m not so sure. Wenger has spoken glowingly of Gallas since he stripped him of the captaincy and I really do think Cappy is our best defender. Toure, on the other hand, has had a pretty rough season and famously handed in a transfer request because he couldn’t handle whatever was happening in January. Frankly, I think if (and that’s a big if) Wenger gets rid of one of them, it will be Toure.
What’s really strange is that if Toure leaves it will be the latest in a long line of Arsenal defenders who basically had a mental breakdown and left the club at the end of the season (Campbell, Senderos, and now Toure). Being a defender at a big club takes a lot of mental strength, and being a defender at Arsenal, where the tactics constantly expose defenders, must be absolutely maddening.
There really isn’t much more going on, Arsenal are still linked with Edin Dzeko (striker) and Yaya Toure (defensive midfielder). The latter has reportedly rejected a Barcelona contract offer which may give some of you hope but I think is just his agent angling for a bigger contract. Another supposed Arsenal target is Joleon Lescott and between Moyes saying his players aren’t for sale and Manchester City reportedly offering Everton £18m and the player £80,000/wk I’m thinking that Arsene would either have to move a big name player or convince Lescott that a Champions League campaign will increase his England chances.
Well, I guess he could sell Robin van Persie for £25m.