Barcelona have identified Thomas Vermaelen as their primary defensive target if their move for Paris Saint-Germain's Marquinhos falls through this summer, according to Catalan newspaper El Mundo Deportivo.
The Catalan giants made their first defensive signing in five years last week when the landed Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia last week - and now they are after more. Marquinhos is their main target - the Brazilian faces an uncertain future in Paris following the arrival of David Luis from Chelsea, but as it stands PSG are unwilling to sell the 20-year-old.
According to El Mundo Deportivo that could lead Barcelona to target Vermaelen, which will put them on collision course with the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool.
The Belgian appears destined to leave Arsenal this summer, and it is Manchester United who appear most keen. New boss Louis van Gaal confirmed after his side's friendly victory over Inter Milan yesterday that he is in the market for defensive reinforcements and it would seem as though Vermaelen is the man for the job.
Manchester United targets
The Red Devils were linked with Mats Hummels and Stefan de Vrij but the latter has joined Lazio and the Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp is adamant that the former is going nowhere, which would seemingly leave Vermaelen as their top defensive target. The fact that he can play at left-back and could act as cover for new Manchester United signing Luke Shaw is seen as a major bonus.
A bid in the region of £6 million from Manchester United has already been rejected by Arsenal according to reports, and the Gunners are said to be holding out for around £11 million, while it's even been suggested that they are keen on a player-plus-cash deal.
Liverpool are also said to be in the running for Vermaelen, although it would appear as though Manchester United are in the box seat. Interestingly another Spanish newspaper, Sport, say that Liverpool defender Daniel Agger remains firmly in Barcelona's sights, and if the Dane does make the move to the Nou Camp then Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers may well step up his pursuit of Vermaelen.
Arsenal would undoubtedly prefer to sell the 28-year-old to Barcelona over either one of their Premier League rivals, however if Barcelona do indeed secure the services of Marquinhos they may not have that option.
The Gunners are also likely to target a defensive signing of their own if Vermaelen, who fell behind Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the pecking order last season, does leave.