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Napoli steps up interest in Arsenal captain Vermaelen

Goal.com

Napoli is weighing up a summer move for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen after meeting with the player's agent, Goal understands.

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Talks have taken place with Alex Kroes over a possible transfer for his client as Rafa Benitez looks to bolster his defensive options and mount a concerted Serie A challenge next season.

Benitez is a long-term admirer of Vermaelen, who has suffered due to the blossoming partnership between Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny at the Emirates Stadium.

Zenit has also been linked with a move for the Belgian before the Russian transfer window closes on February 25, but Arsenal has no intention of letting him go mid-season.

Vermaelen, who has been sidelined with a series of niggling injuries since starting the Gunners' FA Cup win over Tottenham on January 4, has been a fringe player at Emirates Stadium over the last 12 months.

However, the Arsenal staff has been impressed by his attitude and professionalism, and the defender has not pushed strongly for a move even though his place in Belgium's highly competitive starting lineup at the World Cup is under threat.

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