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Defender Vermaelen joins Barcelona from Arsenal

Published: Saturday 9 August 2014, 20.36CET
Luis Enrique has continued to strengthen FC Barcelona's back line with the signing of Arsenal FC's Thomas Vermaelen, only the second Belgian ever to join the Blaugrana.
by Joseph Walker
from Madrid

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Published: Saturday 9 August 2014, 20.36CET

Defender Vermaelen joins Barcelona from Arsenal

Luis Enrique has continued to strengthen FC Barcelona's back line with the signing of Arsenal FC's Thomas Vermaelen, only the second Belgian ever to join the Blaugrana.

Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen has joined FC Barcelona from Arsenal FC for an undisclosed fee.

The 28-year-old, who will be presented on Sunday, becomes only the second Belgian ever to sign for Barcelona after Fernand Goyvaerts in the 1960s. Vermaelen is their sixth summer recruit following the arrivals of Marc-André ter Stegen, Ivan Rakitić, Claudio Bravo, Luis Suárez and Jérémy Mathieu.

The Blaugrana had gone five years without signing a centre-back before Mathieu's arrival in July. With Vermaelen the second new arrival in as many months for the position it appears new coach Luis Enrique is determined to add depth to an area of the pitch that has thrown up difficulties in the recent past.

Vermaelen, who made 150 appearances in five years for the Gunners, will sign a contract until 2019. He brings a wealth of leadership and UEFA Champions League experience to a back line that recently lost captain Carles Puyol, who retired in May.

Capped 46 times by Belgium, he started his career across the border with AFC Ajax, making his professional debut aged 18 in February 2004. A centre-back who has also been deployed by club and country on the left side of defence, he then served as the Amsterdam side's captain before departing for Arsenal in 2009.

Vermaelen immediately showed his ability at each end of the pitch, scoring nine goals in his debut campaign, reaching the UEFA Champions League quarter-final before defeat by new employers Barcelona. Injury curtailed his 2010/11 season early on, but he returned a year later to finish the next campaign strongly.

In August 2012 he was named Arsenal captain in the wake of Robin van Persie's departure. Last May he lifted the FA Cup to end a nine-year spell without a trophy for the Gunners.

Last updated: 09/08/14 23.56CET

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