Sunday 28 December 2014

Wenger hints United want Vermaelen

Published 07/08/2014 | 14:35

Arsene Wenger, pictured, admits Thomas Vermaelen is on his way out of the club
Arsene Wenger, pictured, admits Thomas Vermaelen is on his way out of the club

Arsene Wenger admits Manchester United are one of the clubs trying to sign Thomas Vermaelen but the Arsenal boss would prefer to see the defender move abroad.

Vermaelen struggled to establish himself in the Gunners first team last season and has attracted interest from a number of clubs this summer.

Wenger refused to discuss the size of the bids received but confirmed the club have received a number of offers for the Belgian.

"Have we received bids? Yes. I can't tell you who from but you will know very soon," Wenger said.

"Are Man United one of the teams to have made an offer? I think they could be in the group."

Vermaelen made just 21 appearances in all competitions last season and only 14 in the Barclays Premier League.

After signing for Arsenal from Ajax in July 2009, Vermaelen became an integral part in the Gunners' defence but form and fitness have since put his starting spot in jeopardy.

Wenger admits Arsenal are willing to sell Vermaelen but would prefer him to join a foreign club.

"He could leave, it could happen, I've said that since the start of pre-season," Wenger said.

"He needs to play now. He has shown an outstanding attitude but he is in a position where we wouldn't stand in his way if he finds an interesting opportunity."

Wenger added: "Ideally, yes, we would like to sell him abroad and that is an option for us.

"I don't want to say how many offers we have but we have offers from abroad as well."

One player who could replace Vermaelen is Calum Chambers, who Arsenal signed for £16million from Southampton.

The 19-year-old played at right-back last season in his debut campaign in the Premier League but Wenger believes the youngster is ready to make an impact at the heart of his defence.

"Can he play every week? Maybe not, he is 19 years old, but he can play a major role," Wenger said.

"He has the qualities to impose his quality in this part of the team (central defence) and I believe he can play in defensive midfield as well.

"I believe he is good value for money. He is 19 and a promising talent.

"As a manager you believe in the players when you buy them - w e spent a lot of money on him but overall, in the long-term, it is money well spent.

"When the players play at the top for a long period you can never say it's expensive. It is expensive now but I don't regret it."

As well as Chambers, Arsenal have brought in striker Alexis Sanchez, full-back Mathieu Debuchy and goalkeeper David Ospina.

Wenger says the club are open to bolstering the squad further but insists they are not close to completing any deals and dismissed speculation regarding Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira.

"I don't know who has put Khedira on the market - is it his agent or the press?" Wenger said.

"We were never close to signing him. Jack Wilshere is back fit and in midfield we have offensive midfielders and quite a few box-to-box players."

Wenger continued: "We still have three and a half weeks before the transfer market closes.

"I am open to it (more transfers) but Joel Campbell has come back plus the addition of the four players we have already bought.

"We have not lost players until now so we have a big squad at the moment."

Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski will all return to Arsenal on Monday after winning the World Cup with Germany last month.

None of the trio, however, will be ready for Arsenal's Premier League opener at home to Crystal Palace.

"Having the experience of being a team that has won a World Cup - it always makes it difficult mentally to be sharp and hungry straight away again," Wenger said.

"You either bring them back quickly and then you lose them in October or you give them the needed rest and build them up again."

Theo Walcott, who is recovering from a knee injury, is expected back between the end of August and the start of September.

The winger is unlikely to be available for England's friendly against Norway on September 3.

Press Association

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