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 By PA Sport

Vermaelen nears Barcelona move

Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is close to a 15 million-pound move to Barcelona, according to Press Association Sport.

The Belgium defender could complete a move to the Camp Nou over the weekend.

On Thursday, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said the club's preference was to sell the defender abroad, rather than to a domestic rival, with Manchester United also interested.

Club captain Vermaelen, who joined from Ajax in 2009, made 21 appearances for the Gunners last season.

Niggling injuries and the form of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker limited his impact.

However, despite being an unused substitute at Wembley, he did lift the FA Cup in May as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought.

The 28-year-old has made 150 appearances in all competitions, scoring 15 goals for the Gunners.

United are reported to still be interested, although a swap deal would not interest them, with rumours Arsenal enquired about defender Chris Smalling and striker Javier Hernandez.

Now it seems the Camp Nou, and not Old Trafford, is Vermaelen's likely destination.

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As we count down to kickoff on Aug. 16, ESPN FC previews all 20 teams in this season's competition. Can Burnley, QPR and Leicester stay up? Will the new signings of Alexis Sanchez, Diego Costa and Adam Lallana help usurp Man City's crown? Will Manchester United get back on track under Louis van Gaal?

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