FC Barcelona have beaten Manchester United in the race for Thomas Vermaelen, with the player set to sign a five-year deal at the Camp Nou.
The Belgium international, who joined Arsenal from Ajax for €10 million in 2009, was behind Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in manager Arsene Wenger’s pecking order last season.
Vermaelen was expected to leave North London this summer and the arrival of versatile defender Calum Chambers from Southampton underlined the club’s intention to offload the Belgian.
“FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of the Belgian international, who will sign a five-year contract with the Catalan club,” read a statement on the club’s official website, fcbarcelona.com.
Vermaelen has passed a medical and will join the Spanish giants ahead of the 2014/15 La Liga campaign.
“Thomas Vermaelen was at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper this afternoon to take a series of medical tests prior to the official announcement of his transfer from Arsenal to FC Barcelona.
“Having passed them all, on Sunday, the Belgian international, the latest addition to Luis Enrique’s 2014/15 Barça squad, will sign his contract and be officially presented on the Camp Nou field and to the media at a press conference.”
The 28-year-old defender, who can play centre-back and left-back, will compete with the likes of Gerard Piqué, Javier Mascherano, Jérémy Mathieu, Jordi Alba and Marc Bartra for games next season.
Vermaelen made 22 appearances in all competitions, including 14 starts, for the Gunners last term.
Stekelenburg joins Monaco on loan
Fulham F.C. goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg has joined French Ligue 1 side AS Monaco on a season-long loan deal.
Stekelenburg, 31, lost his starting-place at Craven Cottage to David Stockdale last season and did not care about the club, according to manager Felix Magath.
“He’s a player that wants to leave and I’m not a manager who cares about players who don’t identify with the club,” Magath said.
“That was a problem last season. I told everybody you can stay here, you can work with me, I will work with you but if you don’t want to with me please leave.
“I don’t want to work with players who have no heart for the club.”
The Dutchman had not featured for the Cottagers, who were relegated from the English Premier League in 2013/14, in pre-season and a move was always believed to be on the cards.
“I am happy to be a part of the project of the club,” Stekelenburg said.
“I am going to give myself fully for my new club. I am a ‘technical’ goalkeeper. I like playing far from my goal and helping the team.”