Manchester United are set to bid £12m for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen after receiving the green light from Arsene Wenger, as the Arsenal manager admitted the Belgian could leave the Emirates between now and the end of the transfer window.
The Guardian reports that United are ready to open negotiations with Arsenal for a player considered to be one Louis Van Gaal’s main targets of the summer, but they’ll face stiff competition from Barcelona, who could have a slight advantage in the race to sign the Belgian, given Arsenal would prefer selling Vermaelen abroad than to a direct rival.
Despite remaining club captain at Arsenal, a series of injuries and poor performances have seen Vermaelen losing his spot in the starting XI to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker and the Belgian has expressed his frustration at the lack of first team opportunities, while Wenger has admitted he could not guarantee Vermaelen a starting spot.
Van Gaal has openly stated his intentions to play with a three-man defence this season and Vermaelen’s versatility makes him an ideal candidate in the Dutchman’s eyes, given the Arsenal captain can play at centre-back as well as a left-back, if needed. Furthermore, at 28 Vermaelen is still relatively young for a defender but has already got over 100 Premier League appearances under his belt and is far from being a novice at international level either, a factor Van Gaal would have undoubtedly considered.
The 28-year-old defender, who is currently nursing a minor hamstring injury he picked up during the World Cup, is out of contract in 12 months and Arsenal would rather cash in now than lose him for free next summer, even though that means they won’t be able to command as big a fee as they would have perhaps liked.