Manchester United have agreed in principle a financial package to make Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen their third summer signing, with the Daily Star reporting that the Gunners are now the only obstacle to a deal which is thought to be worth around £11m.
United boss Louis van Gaal has identified Vermaelen as a player he thinks can help United shore up a central defensive area desperately short of quality cover thanks to the exits of veteran duo Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, but have so far been met with stubborn resistance by Arsenal.
Vermaelen has been forced to play second fiddle to centre-back pair Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny over the last 18 months thanks to a combination of bad luck with injuries and a loss of form, although that doesn't mean Wenger is prepared to let another of his stars join a direct Premier League rivals this summer.
Wenger has already flatly refused to entertain a £6m bid for his captain from United in the last fortnight, but has a tough decision to make as Vermaelen's current contract at the Emirates has just 12 months left to run.
Vermaelen was restricted to 14 Premier League appearances last season and looked mildly embarrassed to lift the FA Cup last season after failing to feature in the Wembley showpiece against Hull City, an act which could now be his last as an Arsenal player.
Arsenal have far from given hope of persuading the star to stay put and even potentially sign a new contract, but the lure of a fresh challenge and more prominent role under Van Gaal could well be too strong.
United mean business
Despite Van Gaal being busy with World Cup commitments United have completed summer business amounting to more than £50m over the last 48 hours, completing the double signing of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw.
United have targeted a third piece of the puzzle and want a new defensive linchpin with experience to help the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling develop and know they have fierce competition for a starting spot, but the deal will cost them at least £11m.
That's the price tag that Arsenal have set and is yet to be met, which means Vermaelen faces a waiting game to see tentative early talks produce the move his career well need this summer, however painful it may be for the Belgian defender to join another former Gunners captain in Robin van Persie at Old Trafford.
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