Vermaelen wary of Huntelaar threat

Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen has warned his Gunners team-mates to be wary of AC Milan’s Klaas Jan Huntelaar - a transfer target for Premier league sides such as Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United - ahead of the sides’ clash in the Emirates Cup on Saturday.

Vermaelen played alongside Huntelaar for five years when the pair were at Ajax.

The Dutch international appears to have fallen out of favour at Milan and has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League, where Spurs boss Harry Redknapp and Manchester United supremo Sir Alex Ferguson are both known to be keen admirers.

"Huntelaar is a very good striker," said Vermaelen. "He's very clever in the box and we'll have to concentrate for 90 minutes to keep him out.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing him again and hopefully playing against him. Milan will be a good challenge for us and will hopefully be a great pre-season match for the supporters.

"Arsenal against Celtic will also be a good challenge for us. I know Celtic are a very well supported team and there will hopefully be lots of supporters from both clubs in the stadium to make a great atmosphere. 

"We obviously played against Celtic in last season's Champions League, so we know this will be a tough, very competitive pre-season match."

This will be Vermaelen’s first Emirates Cup - the annual pre-season competition held at the Gunners' Emirates Stadium, having missed last season’s through injury, and he is looking forward to what promises to be a testing competition for Arsene Wenger’s side.

"I remember watching the matches and seeing the full stadium on both days, so I'm really looking forward to being involved this year.

"It's a high quality pre-season competition and we are playing against very good teams, so it's a strong test for us before the season starts. 

"It's tough, they're all good teams, and we play against AC Milan and Celtic, so we'll have two hard matches just before the Premier League starts. It's good preparation for the players and will also be great for the supporters, who will see two good matches each day.

"It is very important for our preparations because it's the first time we'll be playing against big teams since last season and you can see how far you are in pre-season."

Huntelaar, meanwhile, may well be hoping to put in a couple of eye-catching displays in order to help seal a move to Old Trafford, White Hart Lane or elsewhere in the Premier League.

Arsenal's Premier League campaign starts with a trip to Liverpool on August 15.

By Ian Woodcock

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