- Associated Press - Saturday, August 9, 2014

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Barcelona bolstered its defense on Saturday by acquiring Belgium international Thomas Vermaelen from Premier League team Arsenal.

Vermaelen agreed to sign a five-year contract after passing a medical exam, Barcelona said. He will be presented at Camp Nou on Sunday.

Barcelona held off interest from Manchester United in Vermaelen to clinch an undisclosed deal with Arsenal that Spanish media reports said was around €19 million ($25.4 million).

Vermaelen joined Arsenal in 2009 from Dutch club Ajax and played 150 matches in six seasons, scoring 15 goals. He was the captain of Arsene Wenger’s side for the past two seasons despite only making 14 appearances last campaign.

The 28-year-old Vermaelen will now be under the orders of Barcelona’s new coach Luis Enrique and will compete with Gerard Pique, Javier Mascherano and fellow newcomer Jeremy Mathieu for playing time in the center of Barcelona’s defense.

Vermaelen is Barcelona’s fifth significant signing this summer after the Catalan club finished its first season without a major trophy in six years. Besides bringing back Rafina and Gerard Deulofeu from loans, Barcelona has also bought controversial forward Luis Suarez, midfielder Ivan Rakitic, and goalkeepers Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo.

Barcelona opens its Spanish league season on Aug. 24 against Elche.

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