Vermaelen arrival signals Arsenal defensive departure

Well, he may not be the Brede Hangeland towering central defender that we all hoped Arséne Wenger would sign, but Thomas Vermaelen’s imminent arrival is certainly something to celebrate.

A renowned stopper in Holland, he is all about brains over brawn – and for those of you who wonder if being under six foot is a disadvantage, just think about Franco Baresi! (5ft 9).

There’s no doubt that our defence was, at times, a shambles last season.

The absence of William Gallas towards the end of the campaign cost us dearly and he was without doubt our best defender, even though his early-season misdemeanours hampered his pre-Christmas form.

But with Vermaelen arriving, I suspect Arséne Wenger will be moving one defender on, and I don’t suspect any of us know who that is going to be.

Wenger is always keen on having balance in the squad, not having too many players in too many positions (despite the dearth of midfielders presently) and with Arsenal’s wage bill being one of the highest in the country, he has to balance the books.

In an ideal world, it would be Mikael Silvestre, who showed us why Alex RedNose let him go. Slow, laborious and just not good enough anymore, the Frenchman was surprisingly given a two year deal and that may hinder his chances of leaving unless Wenger tells him that he is going to be fifth choice next season. At his age, perhaps he will prefer playing to cash, before his career tapers off.

I think we can all safely assume that Philippe Senderos has played his last game for the club. He never quite lived up to the hype and makes too many basic errors to deserve to stay.

Why AC Milan took him, I don’t know, but all the noises he is making suggest it’s a case of who will sign him. That said, I don’t think his departure will prevent Wenger getting rid of someone else.

I'm assuming that Johann Djourou is staying – and his performances and potential would suggest that he has a lot to offer the Gunners and I can’t understand why he didn’t play even more last season, when fit.

So that leaves us with two players who had rocky season at Arsenal.

As already mentioned, Gallas had a difficult start to the year, proving that his outspoken reputation at Ch*vski wasn’t just to do with who he played for. He’s on big big money and isn’t getting any younger.

Would I sell him? Yes, if I was manager, because as he gets older, he gets more injury-prone and his wages alone could be freed up. That said, if he stays, I’d be delighted as well, because he scored goals and tries to rouse the players, which, let’s be honest, they need from time to time.

And so to Kolo Toure. Is our longest-serving player, the last of the Invincibles, ready for a new challenge?

Sadly, from the moment he came back from the African Cup of Nations in early 2008, he looked nothing like the player who left us and only as last season came to a climax did he seem to recover.

Add to that his public spat with Gallas, the malaria which will cause him problems for a long time and the continuing rumours of Manchester Citeh and I wonder whether he will still be a Gunner next year.

He’s played in every single position apart from goal for Arsenal at one time or another and there are many who say he should be our defensive midfielder, but Wenger has already said that he doesn’t think Kolo can play in that position.

Whatever happens, expect at least one departure from the list above – and let us know in comments who you’d like to see leave from the defence this summer.