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Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 16:53 UK

Arsenal confirm Vermaelen signing

Thomas Vermaelen
Vermaelen was Ajax club captain last season

Arsenal have completed the signing of Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax in a deal worth up to £10m.

The 23-year-old centre-back is a regular at international level and made his debut for Belgium in March 2006.

"Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal and we are all delighted that he is joining us," Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger told the club's website.

"He is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and Uefa Cup football."

Vermaelen made his debut for Ajax at the age of 18 and made 143 appearances for the side as he worked his way up to become club captain.

"Firstly, I have to say that I'm sad to be leaving Ajax and I would just like to thank everyone for their help and friendship towards me over the past eight years," he said.

606: DEBATE

"I'm just so happy to be joining Arsenal. This is a great club with a world-class manager, high-quality players and a fantastic stadium.

"Everything is set up for Arsenal to be very successful for years to come.

"I have had a good taste of the Champions League during my time with Ajax and this is something I am looking forward to experiencing again with Arsenal.

"I'm also looking forward to playing in the English Premier League, which for me, is the best league in the world. Also, I just want to assure the Arsenal fans that I will give everything for this club and I hope we can enjoy winning some trophies together next season."

The defender won the Dutch league in 2004 but leaves Ajax after a disappointing campaign that saw his side finish third in the Eredivisie and out of the Champions League qualifying places.

Since making his international debut in a 2-0 win away to Luxembourg in March 2006, Vermaelen has made 21 appearances for Belgium.

His signing comes after manager Arsene Wenger admitted in a shareholders meeting in May that his side must shore up their defence if they are to close an 18-point gap between themselves and the top of the league.

"In the passing quality in the final third and in the opposition half, we are as good as Manchester United," he said.

"We have conceded more goals and that is where the difference lies; we have conceded 36, they have conceded 24."



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see also
Wenger will have money to invest
14 May 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger vows to strengthen squad
10 May 09 |  Arsenal
Wenger transfer policy under fire
17 Apr 09 |  Arsenal
Arsenal need to strengthen - Dein
01 Feb 09 |  Arsenal
Arsenal promise cash for signings
28 Nov 08 |  Arsenal


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