La Liga giants eye Belgian.
Arsenal are bracing themselves for a bid from Barcelona for centre-half Thomas Vermaelen.
The Spanish giants have identified the 26-year-old as a key transfer target this summer, along with Atletic Bilbao enforcer Javi Martinez and Bayern Munich’s Holger Badstuber, according to Catalan source Sport.
New Barca boss Tito Vilanova is keen to strengthen his side’s back-line as the Nou Camp club seek to wrestle back the La Liga title from fierce rivals Real Madrid. Last year, Barca frequently deployed Javier Mascherano as a make shift centre-half but Vilanova is determined to reinstate the former Liverpool harrier to the midfield by bringing in Vermaelen and Badstuber.
Arsenal would be reluctant to lose the former Ajax star who, despite persistent injury problems since his arrival in summer 2009, has become a rock at the back for the north Londoners.
The Gunners will be particularly unhappy at Barca targeting another key player, after the Catalans prized Cesc Fabregas away from the Emirates in last summer’s most prolonged transfer saga.
Barcelona, however, are thought to be ready to offer £20 million for the stopper, who has an impressive history of scoring important goals for Arsene Wenger’s side, after netting 13 times in the League in 67 appearances.