Monday 11 December 2017

Vermaelen excited by Koscielny partnership

Thomas Vermaelen. Photo: Getty Images
Thomas Vermaelen. Photo: Getty Images

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen believes he will forge a robust centre-back partnership with new signing Laurent Koscielny.

Vermaelen has been impressed by what he has seen of the summer recruit from French club Lorient and they could be paired together right from the start of the season.

With centre-backs Sol Campbell, William Gallas and Mikael Silvestre likely to find new clubs, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is short of options.

Johan Djourou's return from injury provides Wenger with an alternative and Vermaelen, who enjoyed a superb debut season in the Barclays Premier League last term, would be happy to play with either of them.

"It doesn't matter for me who I play with," he told the club's official website,

"You know each other's qualities and you know how the players play.

"I didn't know Koscielny before but I have seen him in training.

"He is a good defender, he puts pressure on the attackers all the time and he is tight with his marking.

"I have played alongside him a few times in training and that has gone well. He is a good defender.

"Djourou had a long injury last year, for almost all of the season.

"I think for him it is good to be back. I know him well and he is a quality player."

Emerging midfielder Francis Coquelin will be travelling the path taken by Koscielny but in reverse after signing a new long-term contract with Arsenal.

The 19-year-old Frenchman will now join Ligue 1 side Lorient in a one-year loan deal and intends to challenge for a first-team place when he returns to the Emirates Stadium.

"Arsenal is the right club for me because Arsene Wenger trusts young players and we can learn quickly at a high level," he said.

"The first six months were quite hard for me because of the language but now I have learned English, now I have my house, my friends in England, and I feel comfortable.

"They have given me a new contract so obviously they are counting on me and I am really pleased with that. I will give that back by working hard."

Arsenal's business in the transfer window looks set to involve the departure of striker Eduardo, who is close to completing a £6m move to Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 27-year-old is poised to sign a three-year contract after passing a medical and agreeing terms with the Ukrainian champions, according to The Sun.

Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu said: "We wanted to buy Eduardo before he moved to Arsenal.

"Not everything went his way last season, but he is still a player of very high quality, a real marksman.

"Yes, he had a serious injury, we are aware of the risk, but at the same time we realise he can give a lot to Shakhtar. We expect a lot from Eduardo."

The Brazil-born Croatia international joined the Gunners from Dinamo Zagreb in 2007 but failed to hold down a regular first-team spot after suffering an horrific broken leg in February 2008.

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