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Vermaelen new Arsenal captain

Thomas Vermaelen has been named the new captain of Arsenal following the sale of Robin van Persie, manager Arsene Wenger has revealed.

With Van Persie’s departure to Manchester United completed, the Frenchman was keen to name a replacement skipper ahead of Saturday’s Premier League opener against Sunderland.

Mikel Arteta has been appointed vice-captain, in only his second season at the club after joining from Everton last year.

“The new captain is Vermaelen and (the vice-captain is) Arteta,” Wenger told reporters. “We have many potential captains in this team.”

Vermaelen moved to Arsenal from Ajax in June 2009, instantly establishing himself as first-team regular, scoring on his debut against Everton and notching several more goals in his first season.

Wenger insisted the club wanted to keep Van Persie but is confident they can cope with his loss.

The Dutchman officially signed a four-year deal with Manchester United on Friday, ending his eight-year association with the London outfit.

“We wanted to keep Robin van Persie,” he said.

“The reality is when the player doesn’t want to stay, you have two ways – you either force him to stay, or you accept the reality and let him go. I’ve chosen the second solution.

“I know it’s a massive challenge and a massive gamble I took, but I feel that we have the quality to deal with the problem we have.”

Wenger also revealed Cameroon international midfielder Alex Song could join Van Persie out the Arsenal exit door, with Real Madrid’s Nuri Sahin a preferred target.

Song has been linked with a move to Barcelona in recent weeks but Wenger said no formal offer had yet been received.

The Frenchman was quizzed over the likelihood of Song’s departure and whether he had signings lined up.

“Both can happen. We have six or seven players in midfield, it is an area where we have much more freedom to make decisions,” he said.

“If you look at the number of players we have a massive squad. We have what is needed to be ambitious.”

When asked about Sahin, Wenger remained tight-lipped but hinted at several potential names, adding: “He is one of the players that we follow.”

Arsenal hosts Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday and Wenger is expecting a difficult encounter.

“Traditionally it is always an intense, physical game against them,” he said. “We have to create space.”

Fri 17 Aug, 2012
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