Arsenal eye former Liverpool stalwart to replace Man Utd target

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Thomas Vermaelen continues to be strongly linked with a move to Manchester United from Arsenal, and the Belgian centre-half’s replacement on the Gunners’ bench could be Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa, according to the latest of reports.

Arsenal are 13/2 to win their first Premier League title in over a decade this season having made a number of exciting signings, including Chilean flyer Alexis Sanchez, but their defensive ranks are in something of a state of flux.

Arbeloa has been a mainstay in Los Blancos’ back line since leaving Anfield in the summer of 2009, clocking up over 180 appearances for the current Champions League holders.

The 31-year-old still has two years to run on his Bernabeu contract, but both AS and Marca – two of the more widely-read Spanish newspapers – claim Emirates chief Arsene Wenger is plotting to lure Arbeloa to north London with the promise of a bumper end-of-career payday.

Salamanca’s finest is nominally a full-back, but has moved into the centre on numerous occasions with Real and during his time at Liverpool.

Arsenal could certainly still use a bit more cover in the right-back ranks.

Wenger admitted he has taken a chance on £16m Southampton teenager Calum Cambers to act as understudy for new number one Mathieu Debuchy, now Bacary Sagna has fled for Manchester City and Carl Jenkinson’s loan move to West Ham is compete.

However, their area of much greater need is the one directly in front of goal, as whispers that Vermaelen is on the verge of an Old Trafford switch refuse to go away.

The well-regarded Belgium World Cup regular started just seven Premier League games for the Gunners last term and could be forgiven for wanting to leave, with first-choice pairing Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker showing no signs of budging.

Emergency centre-half Sagna has gone, and Vermaelen’s departure would make 19-year-old Chambers, who many see as a future regular in the position, the next man in line should either the France or Germany international succumb to injury.

In such circumstances, an Arsenal move for a reserve centre-back looks essential, so this particular rumour may have more than a ring of truth about it.

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