In more good news for Arsenal fans, Arsene Wenger revealed that he is open to extending club captain Thomas Vermaelen's stay at the Emirates.
Vermaelen has rarely featured during this campaign due to the stellar form of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. However, Wenger is keen to keep the player away from the clutches of West Ham and Napoli.
According to Darren Lewis of the Daily Mirror, Sam Allardyce is waiting to hear back from the Gunners after enquiring about a loan deal for Vermaelen until the end of the season.
Allardyce's urgency is understandable. The Hammers are in free fall having only kept three clean sheets in the last 13 games. According to WhoScored.com, they've allowed 34 goals in that span.
A chance for some regular first-team action may have appealed to a player that has only seen action on 12 occasions during this campaign. However, it would appear that the West Ham boss may have to pursue other targets after Wenger made plain his admiration for his captain during a press conference.
It was noted at the time by the Arsenal Twitter feed:
He then elaborated on the topic on the club's official website:
I am open to it. I am ready to extend his contract. We want Thomas Vermaelen to be happy and have the number of games a player of his class deserves.
On my side, I have a high respect for his qualities and attitude and I am ready to extend his contract.
At the moment we’re all on board for something this season that is respectable. At the end of the season I can sit down with Thomas and see what he thinks about it.
Such a statement may have gone some way to easing any fears about Vermaelen's future in North London and comes after Napoli were also rebuffed in their approach for the player.
Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reported that Rafa Benitez's offer to take the player to Italy has been turned down.
Vermaelen is a man in a hurry with the World Cup just a few short months away. Only three starting berths and a solitary minute of Champions League action is not acceptable for a player of his calibre.
Yet you can't really argue with Wenger's standpoint.
According to Paul Fennessy of TheJournal.ie (h/t Yahoo! Sport/Eurosport), Mertesacker and Koscielny have not lost a game in two years when they have partnered each other for the full 90 minutes.
Of the 27 games the pair have completed in that time together, 19 have been won with eight drawn. There have been 16 clean sheets resulting in just 0.5 goals against per game.
Vermaelen is no slouch in the defensive department either. Squawka.com notes his excellence in the short time that has been made available to him this season.
At 28 years old, the Belgian is now in his footballing prime and Wenger has to be studious in his management of the player.
The offer of a new contract is of course good news, but the Frenchman must be careful not to be accused of just paying lip service to Vermaelen, should he fail to reintegrate him back into the fold.
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