Thomas Vermaelen has denied saying that he intends to stay at Arsenal and remains coy over his future at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners captain has been exiled from the first-choice XI since a disappointing display against Tottenham in March and had recently suggested that he might have to consider his options if things do not change. After making his first Premier League start of the season in Sunday’s defeat to Manchester United, he was quoted as stating that he has no plans to leave.
However, while on international duty with Belgium he has claimed that he never spoke to anyone about his future and suggested it remains very much up in the air.
"I don't want to speak about the situation because if I do I make it worse, so I don't want to speak,” he said, according to Sky Sports. “It is not about my situation it is about the team and they are doing well, it is not about me.
"Of course you want to play as much as you can, so I was really happy to play on Sunday."
The central defender also claimed to be unaware of reported comments from Belgium coach Marc Wilmots suggesting that Vermaelen’s playing time with his club would not impact his place in the World Cup squad next summer. It has to be expected that Brazil will still play a big part in his decision come the opening of the transfer window. Barcelona have been linked with the 28-year-old in the past, although, given the emergence of Marc Bartra this season, it is highly doubtful that they will make a move in January.
It is likely that regardless of Vermaelen’s future, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will be considering bolstering his defensive options. Currently, he has just three established center-backs at his disposal, and there would be concerns if Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker were to be out for any considerable length of time.
To that end, the Sunday People believes that Arsenal are one of a seemingly growing list of clubs interested in Basel defender Fabian Schar. The 21-year-old has made a rapid rise since joining the Swiss champions from a second-tier side in the summer of 2012. He played a key role in his side’s run to the Europa League semifinals last season, has played in the Champions League this campaign and has already won four caps for Switzerland. Given Schar’s burgeoning reputation and list of admirers, the People’s assertion that Arsenal could secure him for as little as £5 million seems unrealistic.
Right-back may also be an area of concern for Wenger with Bacary Sagna’s contract to expire at the end of the season and doubts persisting about young deputy Carl Jenkinson at the highest level. Talksport has reported that Arsenal are tracking Milan’s full-back Mattia de Sciglio. The 21-year-old is right footed but has played on both sides of defense for both Milan and Italy. The story asserts that Milan would want in excess of £10 million for De Sciglio.
There also continues to be speculation about Arsenal’s supposed interest in Karim Benzema. The Daily Mirror claims that the Real Madrid striker is now open to a move to the Emirates Stadium after snubbing the Gunners’ interest in the summer. The signing of the France international’s former Madrid teammate Mesut Ozil is believed to have helped change his opinion.
Arsenal are said to have renewed their interest, with Wenger “desperate” to sign a striker to provide support for Olivier Giroud in January. However, even the Mirror’s story accepts that Madrid may be unwilling to sell Benzema in mid-season.