Arsenal to continue early transfer raids with move for defender

Lukas Podolski has already signed, now the Gunners are targeting Ajax’s Jan Vertonghen

Arsene Wenger is ready to make another early move in the transfer market and tie up a deal for versatile Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen.

Having confirmed the capture of Germany star Lukas Podolski for �11m earlier this week, Wenger is keen to get more of Arsenal’s transfer business done before the summer.

And Ajax defender Vertonghen, a Belgian international team-mate of Gunners vice-captain Thomas Vermaelen, is his next target.

The 25-year-old is about to enter the final year of his contract and that has alerted a number of clubs – including north London rivals Tottenham – across Europe, but Arsenal is thought to be his preferred destination.


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“Jan has some dream clubs, which are special for him,’ Vertonghen’s agent Mustapha Nakhli said this week. “Playing football in the top of the Premier League is something he has always hoped for.”

While Vertonghen is essentially a centre-back, it is his ability to also play in a defensive midfielder role that is interesting Wenger, who has made finding a back-up to midfield linchpin Alex Song his priority.

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Wenger has been tracking Rennes’ midfielder Yann M’Vila for over a year, but the Frenchman would cost in excess of �15m and the Gunners are hopeful of prising Vertonghen away from Ajax for around half that fee.

Wenger wasted no time in confirming the move for 26-year-old Cologne striker Podolski on Monday, with the Germany international to arrive at Arsenal for pre-season training following the Euro 2012 finals.

“We are happy to have made this signing early and we are looking forward to watching Lukas contribute at the European Championship over the summer,” said Wenger, who is in no doubt about the quality of his latest purchase.

“We are delighted to secure the deal for Lukas and see him as an important part of our future. He is a top-class player, a very good finisher and a proven performer at club and international level. He is a very strong player and will provide us with good attacking options.”

Podolski, who was born in Poland but moved to Germany aged two, said: “I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal and to play in the Premier League. They are one of the top clubs in Europe with a huge history. The style of football which the team plays is fantastic. I’m proud to become an Arsenal player.”

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