Arsenal line up World Cup star to replace Vermaelen

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is ready to move for Greek centre-back Kostas Manolas after selling captain Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona, according to reports from The Express.

The Gunners skipper – who barely featured last season – made his long awaited Emirates Stadium exit over the weekend, leaving Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker short on cover.

Wenger has been linked with Liverpool’s Daniel Agger, but it’s understood that Manolas is his prime target.

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The Olympiakos defender starred for his nation as they made into the knockout phase of the World Cup in Brazil and has been on Arsenal’s radar for a while.

Tottenham and Sunderland have been linked with him in the past, but the Community Shield winners are confident that they can beat their domestic rivals – as well as sides in Italy – to the 23-year-old.

Manolas only joined the Greek champions last summer from bitter rivals AEK Athens, but he’s thought to be ready to move on, and should be available for around half of the fee received for Vermaelen sue to the financial crisis in his homeland – which has hit the nation’s big club teams.

The enforcer has been praised for his commanding style of play and reading of the game.