Serie A side Napoli have joined the race to sign Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, according to talkSPORT. The 27-year-old Belgian international has also been linked with Manchester United and Barcelona, following a string of unimpressive performances for the Gunners in the second half this season.

However, it is believed the Catalan club's interest has waned following those unimpressive performances. The Spanish champions have since been linked with a £40m bid for Chelsea defender David Luiz.

Thomas Vermaelen (R)

Tito Vilanova is expected to strengthen defensive options ahead of next season, with captain Carlos Puyol now 35 and Frenchman Eric Abidal 33. United, meanwhile, have Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic as a first choice team and the former has signed an extension but both are over 30, as is left-back Patrice Evra. Youngsters Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans could do with a relatively more experienced international to guide them and provide squad depth.

Arsene Wenger has settled on France's Laurent Koscielny and Germany's Per Mertesacker as the first choice central defensive team and although he has insisted there is a future at the Emirates for Vermaelen, a sizeable summer bid could persuade the manager to release his former captain.

And in anticipation of a future sale, the Mail Online has linked Wenger to Swansea City defender Ashley Williams. In addition, the north London side are also waiting on the future of right-back Bacary Sagna. The French international has been linked by the Mirror with a return to Ligue 1 in the summer. believes the Gunners have reportedly settled on Sochaux's £4.3m-rated Sebastien Corchia as a possible replacement for Sagna.

Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere on Next Season

Meanwhile, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere believes the Gunners need to start performing consistently from the beginning of a season, if they are to have a chance of challenging for the league title.

The north London side went on a superb run of form in the final 10 games of the season, picking up 26 points to beat rivals Tottenham to fourth and the Champions League.

"The games earlier on don't decide our season but we have got to think that we have to win them, because that is what champions do. That is what we have to do [to challenge for the title], and we also have to improve our record against the big teams. It has not been great this season and if you want to become champions you have to beat those sides," he told