Thomas Vermaelen lined up by Liverpool to replace Mamadou Sakho

The former Arsenal defender has spent two seasons with Barcelona

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Picture by: Rodolfo Molina / AP/Press Association Images

Former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen is being lined up by Liverpool to replace Mamadou Sakho next season.

The French defender is expected to spend a lengthy spell on the sidelines after failing a drugs test last month. Sakho reportedly tested positive for a banned substance that was found in a fat-burning product the 26-year-old used.

If Vermaelen joins Liverpool, it will be his second spell in the Premier League. The Belgian defender spent five years at Arsenal from 2009 to 2014. He was part of the squad that won the FA Cup final in 2014.

The 30-year-old joined Barcelona in a shock transfer in August 2014 on a five-year contract. His opening season was blighted by injuries, making only three appearances in his debut season. This year has seen the Belgian feature far more in the team, but he has still failed to become a regular in the first team.

According to Sport, Vermaelen wants to return to England, after his two-year sojourn in Catalunya. Liverpool are the first team to show interest in the defender, but West Ham may also be interested ahead of their move to the Olympic Stadium in the summer.