Thomas Vermaelen
Former Gunner Lee Dixon has urged Vermaelen to remain at Arsenal. (Reuters)

Thomas Vermaelen must remain at Arsenal and prove to Arsene Wenger he deserves a spot in the Gunners' defence, according to Lee Dixon.

The Belgian international was named club captain last summer following the departure of Robin van Persie but that added responsibility coincided with a dramatic dip in form in the second half of the 2012/13 season.

The Arsenal boss opted for the central defensive partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker during the latter stages of the campaign, with the former Ajax defender Vermaelen starting just one game in the final three months of the season.

The 26-year-old has maintained he is not looking to leave the Gunners this summers, but reports suggesting otherwise continue to swirl.

Dixon, who spent 14 years with the Gunners, believes Vermaelen must resist a move away from Arsenal, confident that the club's improving defence under the tutelage of assistant manager Steve Bould will see the centre half return to form soon enough.

"I think he (Vermaelen) should stay and fight for his place," Dixon told Sky Sports News. "We are now starting to see the fruits of Steve Bould's work over this last year.

"They were a lot more solid towards the end of the season and I think he can benefit from that because he's a great defender but as a team defender I think he's got things to learn and that's where Steve's knowledge will be utilised."

In addition to Vermaelen, both Bacary Sagna and Laurent Koscielny have been linked with moves away from the Emirates stadium this summer.

France international Sagna is contracted to the club until 2014 but is still in talks with the club regarding an extension, despite outlining his excitement over a new season at the Emirates.

Koscielny, who claimed the role as Arsenal's lynchpin in defence last season, has seen himself linked with moves to Champions League winners Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

The centre half however has played down such reports, insisting he remains fully committed to the Gunners. "I have a four year contract," Vermaelen said. "For now, I am still at Arsenal."