Fiorentina must big bid in order to beat Manchester United to the signature of Belgium and Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.

The 28-year-old, who is currently on World Cup duty with his country as they prepare to open their tournament on Tuesday against Algeria, has fallen down the pecking order at the north London side with Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny preferred in his place.

Louis Van Gaal is keen to replace the outgoing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, and is said to be considering his options at the heart of defence.

Fiorentina must take advantage of the Red Devils' hesitation and swoop for a player that, who when fully fit and on song, can prove a difference in the biggest of games and deprive United of yet another transfer target having missed out on the signature of Cesc Fabregas, who has joined Chelsea from Barcelona. The pair are reportedly going head-to-head for the player.

When Vermaelen initially moved to the Emirates Stadium from Ajax for £10million in the summer of 2009, he took the Premier League by storm.

He was a bulldog of a defender, tenacious, strong and willing to throw his body at everything. Comparisons were inevitably made with United defender Nemanja Vidic, another defender cut from the same cloth and who, like the Belgian, would go on to be captain of his club.

Yet injuries and the form of Mertesacker and Koscielny have limited his performances, and he featured just 21 times in all competitions last year, the lowest since the 2010-2011 season which he missed mostly through a devastating Achilles injury.

Many have regarded him to be a fading force but Fiorentina would benefit greatly from his services as they look on securing Champions League football next year and closing the gap on the likes of Juventus, Roma and Napoli at the top of the Serie A table.

Last summer showed that they have financial muscle in the transfer window when they swooped for Mario Gomez of Bayern Munich and Giuseppe Rossi of Villareal, two purchases that ultimately helped them secure Europa League football for next campaign.

They have been linked with Real Madrid’s Sami Khedira and Bayer Leverkusen’s Giulio Donati, but signing Vermaelen would be yet another indication that things are on the up over at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

As well as his defensive qualities he would also add leadership to the team, and would prove to be a stellar signing for Vincenzo Montella’s men that could lead to a challenge for the Scudetto in the foreseeable future.

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