Barcelona have announced the signing of Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen on a five-deal for a fee understood to be £15 million.
The former Arsenal centre-back had fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates and had been rumored to be a transfer target of the La Liga giants for most of the summer window.
Earlier this week, Gunners’ manager Arsene Wenger confirmed that Barcelona and Premier League rivals Manchester United had submitted bids for Vermaelen, but it was later learned that United pulled out of the deal after Arsenal requested defender Chris Smalling as part of the transfer.
Vermaelen joins Barcelona after spending the past five seasons with Arsenal. The centre-back made 119 appearances for the London club, but saw his playing time drastically reduced last season due to injury and poor form.
The 28-year-old defender started his career in the Ajax youth academy and, all totaled, spent nine years playing for the Dutch side.
Following the retirement of Barcelona-great Carles Puyol, the Catalan club began to search of serviceable alternatives in defense. Vermaelen will compete for a spot in the Spanish side’s central defense along with Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano (who may move to Barca’s midfield), newly-signed Jeremy Mathieu (from Valencia) and ‘La Masia’ graduate Marc Bartra.