This is according to the latest reports from Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo cited by Metro, which claim that the Catalan giants are set to hijack the Red Devils' well-documented pursuit of Vermaelen with a bid of approximately £11 million.
The same source reports that Manchester United have been in discussions with Arsenal with regards to the £15 million-rated Belgian international in recent weeks, but it look as if they will have to submit a concrete bid of their own soon to ensure that they do not lose out on this particular target.
This week has already marked somewhat of a milestone for Barcelona, with Wednesday's signing of Valencia's Jeremy Mathieu marking the first arrival of a centre-back at the Camp Nou since Dmytro Chygrynskiy was bought - and swiftly sold - from Shakhtar Donetsk for a big fee back in 2009.
With the constant injuries endured by recently-retired former captain Carles Puyol, this is an area of an otherwise strong first-team squad that Barcelona have been strangely to reluctant to strengthen over recent years.
While natural midfielder Javier Mascherano's attempts to plug such a void alongside Gerard Pique have been quite admirable, it must come as quite a relief to supporters to finally see this strange embargo on new defenders come to an end under new manager Luis Enrique.
The subsequent interest in Vermaelen suggests it won't end there, either. Although the 28-year-old captain has featured sparingly for Arsenal since Arsene Wenger settled upon Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as his first-choice defensive pairing, he has a wealth of experience at the top level and his ability to also be deployed at left-back would
Watch: The latest Manchester United transfer news
Manchester United to miss out?
While there have been an absolute plethora of transfer rumours concerning Manchester United since Louis van Gaal was confirmed as the club's permanent replacement for David Moyes, the pursuit of Vermaelen is one link that appears genuine.
With the experienced figures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand having departed the club, Van Gaal has been left with a defence dangerously devoid of the necessary experience to mount a credible title push.
Again, while Vermaelen - who made one appearance for his country at the 2014 World Cup - may have suffered from a lack of regular first-team football in North London, he nevertheless remains a dependable figure who could help the development of the likes of Luke Shaw, Crhsi Smalling and Phil Jones at Old Trafford.
Arsenal may want to keep hold of Vermaelen for a little longer of course, but it seems unlikely that Wenger will choose to stand his way in the event that he chooses to exit the Emirates Stadium this summer.
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