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Vermaelen key as Arsenal battle Liverpool for Ajax defender Vertonghen

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants to land Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen.

The Daily Star Sunday says Wenger believes Thomas Vermaelen holds the key to beating Liverpool in the race for Vertonghen.

Vermaelen, 25, sidelined after surgery, is a close pal of Belgium team-mate Vertonghen and partnered him at the back with Ajax before his switch to Arsenal.

Wenger missed out on Vertonghen, 24, in summer because the Dutch giants wanted him to boost their Champions League chances.

But they are resigned to losing him and may sell in the January transfer window.

Kop boss Kenny Dalglish is an admirer but Wenger is favourite to land his man.

An Ajax source said: "The fact Thomas and Jan are friends isn't lost on Wenger. Maybe a right word will make the difference for Arsenal.

"We know he's leaving but not when - maybe in January."

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