Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has moved to reject claims he is keen to pursue a transfer to Manchester United. Speculation has intensified in recent days that Vermaelen is edging towards a move to Old Trafford, with some reports that the Belgian has requested a switch to Manchester.
Vermaelen has only a year remaining on his Arsenal contract and has been expected to leave the Emirates Stadium this summer despite his status as club captain, with the centre-back something of a reserve these days.
Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have established themselves as one of the Premier League’s most accomplished defensive pairings, and Vermaelen must go elsewhere if he is to achieve his ambition of playing regular first-team football.
Manchester United has emerged as a potential destination for the 28-year-old with the acquisition of an experienced central defender something of a priority for Louis van Gaal, although Vermaelen has distanced himself from the link.
"I know there has been a lot of talk and a lot of rumours but the only thing I can say is that it's not true.
"Everybody understands my situation at Arsenal and that I have one year left.
"I understand that people are going to talk but I am here in Brazil and I am enjoying my time and I'm focused on what I am doing."
A good deal for both clubs
Were genuine offer to emerge from Manchester United then a proposed transfer from Arsenal for Vermaelen would represent a good deal both clubs.
Van Gaal would get the experience he so requires following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, while the Gunners would receive a decent fee for a player who could depart for nothing in 12 months. £12 million is the reported valuation Arsenal have outlined for any potential suitors, and that would still be a relative snip if Manchester United do move to secure a deal.
It will be a wretch for many to Vermaelen up sticks for Old Trafford, but it makes a great deal of sense in terms of a business transaction. Add to this that Vermaelen is a surplus defender these days along with the fact his reverence in north London has diminished somewhat in recent seasons, and the pain of seeing him join Manchester United will be overcome relatively quickly.
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But is it a good deal for Vermaelen?
A move to Manchester United would be a source of great pride an opportunity not to be missed. However, it remains to be seen if Vermaelen would actually be considered for the regular central defensive role he craves.
Van Gaal would appear to be in the market for two centre-backs, with Mats Hummels, Eliaquim Mangala, and Bruno Martins Indi all having been linked. Add to the mix the players already at Old Trafford - Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans - and competition for places will be even more intense than at Arsenal.
This is not to suggest Vermaelen ought to take an easier route, but it would prove more beneficial to pursue a move to a club where he would enjoy a greater level of prominence, particularly if he has the ambition to revitalise his international career.