Barcelona tipped for double with Vermaelen on board

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Barcelona’s capture of Arsenal skipper Thomas Vermaelen has seen the Catalan side priced at 7/2 to land a domestic double.

Barca had to ward off interest from Manchester United in order to acquire the versatile Belgian – who can operate either at centre back of left back – and hope that while the signing may lack the sensational vibe of those pulled off by rivals Real Madrid it will boost their trophy credentials.

Vermaelen may have fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates but Arsene Wenger’s reluctance to sell to a domestic rival highlights the fact that the 28-year-old is still highly regarded and that the Catalan side have a proven talent on their hands.

Biggest rivals and Champions league winners Madrid have also been busy this summer, adding Bayern Munich’s Toni Kroos and Monaco star James Rodriguez to a side already boasting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.

Los Blancos will take some beating after running champions Atletico Madrid close last year but Barca will hope the capture of Vermaelen and fellow Premier League leaver Luis Suarez will propel them back to the top of the Spanish league.

Reigning champions Atleti have lost a number of the stars that carried them over the line last year, with Diego Costa and David Villa among those to depart, and as such the La Liga title race could take on a more familiar tone with Barca and Real duelling it out in a two-horse race once again.

Barca get their season underway against Elche and their pricing – 1/8 for the win – shows that they are fully expected to hit the ground running.

Real are given an even easier start against Cordoba, with Ladbrokes pricing Carlo Ancelotti’s men as 1/12 favourites, but as ever little will be known until the big two meet each other for the first time this season on October 14.

All Odds and Markets correct as of the date of publishing

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.