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Wenger: Arteta new Arsenal captain

The Gunners boss praised the attitude of Thomas Vermaelen and says it will be difficult to find a quality replacement in the transfer window.

LONDON — Arsene Wenger has appointed Mikel Arteta as Arsenal captain following Thomas Vermaelen's transfer to Barcelona.

The Spaniard helped guide the Gunners to a comprehensive 3-0 win over Premier League champion Manchester City in the Community Shield and has been handed the armband for the forthcoming season, with Per Mertesacker as his deputy.

Arteta, 32, is entering his third full season at the Emirates and previously captained Everton under David Moyes.

Asked who would take over from Vermaelen as club captain, Wenger said: "Arteta will be captain and Mertesacker vice captain."

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Outgoing skipper Vermaelen joined Luis Enrique's Barca for 19 million euros Saturday, bringing an end to his five-year association with Arsenal.

Wenger had nothing but praise for the 28-year-old, adding: "I allowed Thomas Vermaelen to leave before the end of the season. He was not playing regularly, he behaved outstandingly and with dignity. It’s difficult to keep that kind of player at the top level if he doesn’t play regularly."

Wenger will look to find a replacement for Vermaelen in the transfer market but says it will not be easy to sign a quality defender before the window closes at the end of the month.

The Arsenal boss also considers new signing Calum Chambers as a natural center back and was hugely impressed with the 19-year-old's display against City.

"You look at Vermaelen, there were two huge clubs in for him and they had a look and could not find anybody better," Wenger added. "If I can find another one I will do it but it is not easy to find. Maybe a guy who can play in two or three different positions will be better for us.

"I see Chambers as a center back. I saw him there when I bought him. He was outstanding today for a 19-year-old, it was very promising. It’s impressive because he does not have a long history in this position. If all goes well, he has a good career in front of him. He can challenge both center backs and that is what we want."

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