Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen poses next to a club logo after his arrival at FC Barcelona's offices.Reuters

Barcelona have announced the signing of defender Thomas Vermaelen from Arsenal for a reported £15 million.

The Belgian has put pen to paper on a five-year contract, after successfully undergoing a medical at the Nou Camp.

"FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of Belgian player Thomas Vermaelen. He joins the Catalans on a five-year deal," read a statement on the Catalan club's official website.

Although Manchester United were also interested in securing the services of the 28-year-old, Arsenal were not willing to sell the defender to a direct rival.

The Gunners also confirmed the news of the Belgian centre-back's departure on their official website.

"Thomas Vermaelen has agreed to join Barcelona in a permanent transfer for an undisclosed fee," read an Arsenal statement. 

Vermaelen, who has made 150 appearances in all competitions for the north London club since his arrival from Ajax in 2009, will certainly be happy with the move as he had become a fringe player at Arsenal in the last 18 months or so, with Wenger preferring the partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker in the heart of the Gunners defence.

The Belgian has now become the second defender to join Barcelona this summer, after Jeremy Mathieu (Valencia) as the Catalan club continue to bolster their backline, following the retirement of Carles Puyol.

Meanwhile, Arsenal's former academy boss Liam Brady claims that Raheem Sterling would have been a Gunner, had the north London club not pulled out of the transfer in the last minute.

The 19-year-old, who was signed by former Reds boss Rafael Benitez for just £600,000 from Queen Park Rangers in 2010, has gone on to establish himself as one of the most promising youngsters in the Premier League.

"I think I could have got Raheem Sterling if I'd really gone for him. But I didn't go through with that one [in the end]," The Metro quoted said Brady.

Sterling was particularly impressive last season as they narrowly missed out on the Premier League title. Now, the England forward is expected to do even better this season, with him getting a good chance to prove himself following the departure of Luis Suarez.