Arsenal Football Club is delighted to announce that Belgian international defender Thomas Vermaelen has joined the Gunners from Dutch Eredivisie side Ajax on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee.

Vermaelen (23), who was the Ajax club captain last season, made his first team debut for the Dutch club at just 18, after playing at Youth level for Belgian side KFC Germinal Beerschot. During his 143 appearances with the Amsterdam side, Thomas, who is predominantly a central defender, gained experience in both the UEFA Cup and UEFA Champions League including two appearances against Arsenal in the 2005/06 Champions League Group Stages. He has made 21 appearances for Belgium, now being a regular in his country’s set-up since making his full international debut in March 2006.

During his time with Ajax, the club won the Dutch League Championship in 2003/04, with Vermaelen also winning the Dutch National Cup on two occasions (in 2006 and 2007) and the Dutch Super Cup twice (in 2006 and 2007).

Manager Arsène Wenger said: “Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal Football Club, and we are all delighted that he is joining us. Thomas is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and UEFA Cup football and is also a regular with the Belgium national team.

Thomas is primarily a left-footed centre back, but he’s multi-functional and can also play at left back. He is strong technically with a positive winner’s attitude and I have no doubt his arrival will strengthen our team. Thomas Vermaelen will be a huge asset to Arsenal.”

After completing his move to the Gunners, Vermaelen said: “Firstly, I have to say that I’m sad to be leaving Ajax and I would just like to thank everyone for their help and friendship towards me over the past eight years.

“I’m just so happy to be joining Arsenal. This is a great Club with a world class manager, high quality players and a fantastic stadium. Everything is set up for Arsenal to be very successful for years to come and I joined this Club because I know Arsenal will be challenging for trophies.

“I have had a good taste of the Champions League during my time with Ajax and this is something I am looking forward to experiencing again with Arsenal. I’m also looking forward to playing in the English Premier League, which for me, is the best league in the world. Also, I just want to assure the Arsenal fans that I will give everything for this Club and I hope we can enjoy winning some trophies together next season.”

Thomas will join up with his new team-mates for pre-season training in early July.

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19 Jun 2009