United set to snatch rivals’ captain

Vermaelen_2942911bArsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has agreed to join Manchester United this summer and he could become Louis Van Gaal’s first signing if the two clubs manage to agree a fee for the Belgium international.

The 28-year-old has just one year left on his current £70,000-a-week deal at the Emirates but while he remains the club’s captain – in May he lifted the FA Cup at Wembley even though he did not play a single minute in the final – he’s lost his starting spot to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker and only managed 14 Premier League appearances last season.

Reports in the Belgium press and on the Telegraph suggest that United have offered Vermaelen a deal worth £100,000-a-week and are confident of agreeing a deal with Arsenal who, much as it was the case with Robin Van Persie, might prefer cashing in on their captain now rather than running the risk of losing him for free in 12 months.

Vermaelen and Van Persie share the same agent and the Belgian is thought to want his future sorted as quickly as possible after the tournament end, meaning United and Arsenal could sit down to begin negotiations quite soon.

The departures of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have left a huge hole in United’s defence, which has become one of the areas in desperate need of reinforcements, particularly given that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are still somewhat too raw and unexperienced, while Jonny Evans is still prone to the occasional mistake.

At 28 and with five years of Premier League experience under his belt, Vermaelen seemingly represents a very astute signing, particularly as he can play at left-back as well as centre-back, but the Belgian’s injury record is highly suspicious, given the Arsenal captain has missed 13 Premier League games – 10 in the last campaign alone – due to injuries over the last two seasons.



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