Barcelona target Arsenal defender Vermaelen

Spanish giants planning raid on Premier League if Martinez bid fails

New Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova plans to raid the Premier League for a top quality defender with Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen being high on his hit-list.

That is if they fail to land Athletic Bilbao defender Javi Martinez.

Apart from Vermaelen, the Spanish giants also have Chelsea's David Luiz, who was linked to them earlier this summer, and Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany on their radar, according to the Mirror.

So far Martinez - who can operate in central defence or midfield - is proving to be too expensive.

The news will cause despair among Arsenal fans, who are already bracing for the exit of captain Robin van Persie this summer.

Meanwhile, Vermaelen's clubmate Carlos Vela is desperate to join Real Sociedad permanently - but claims the Gunners are driving a hard bargain, the report added.

The Mexican forward, 23, spent last season on loan at Real Sociedad and would like to join them, but Arsenal are playing hardball over a fee.

Vela's agent, Eduardo Hernandez, said: "He is very happy at Sociedad, he wants to stay there, but Arsenal are a complicated club to deal with."


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