London - Barcelona finally won the race to sign Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen on Saturday.
Spanish club had been battling with Manchester United for the Belgium
international's signature over the last few weeks and Luis Enrique's
team got their man for a reported fee of £15 million.
had initially been the front-runners to sign Vermaelen, who was said to
be keen to stay in the Premier League and was uncertain if he would
start regularly at the Camp Nou.
But United manager Louis van Gaal
ended his interest when Gunners boss Arsene Wenger, who preferred to
sell the former Ajax star to a foreign club rather than a direct rival,
asked for England defender Chris Smalling to be included as part of the
Barca coach Enrique then allayed Vermaelen's fears about
spending time on the bench and that was enough to seal the deal for the
"Thomas Vermaelen has agreed to join Barcelona in a
permanent transfer for an undisclosed fee," a statement on Arsenal's
"Vermaelen passed his medical in Barcelona on
Saturday. His transfer is subject to the completion of the normal
"Everyone at Arsenal would like to thank
Thomas for his contribution during his time at the club and wish him
well for the future."
Vermaelen has negotiated a five-year deal
and Barcelona said he will sign his contract on Sunday before having a
photograph session with the media on the Camp Nou turf.
He will then be officially presented as the Catalan club's player at a press conference.
captain Vermaelen, who moved to the Emirates Stadium in 2009, made only
21 appearances last season as niggling injuries and the form of Laurent
Koscielny and Per Mertesacker limited his impact.
despite being an unused substitute at Wembley, he did lift the FA Cup in
May as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought.
Vermaelen, who has 47 caps for Belgium, made 150 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal and scored 15 goals.
He will compete with Gerard Pique and Jeremy Mathieu for a place in the centre of the Barcelona defence.