Manchester United are preparing to launch a £12 million raid for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen after Gunners boss Arsene Wenger admitted he could be sold this summer.
The Belgian is out of contract next year and his future in north London is in doubt. He fell down the pecking order behind Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny last season despite the fact that he remains club captain.
Manchester United are short of options at the back after losing both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand this summer, and reports suggest that new boss Louis van Gaal wants to land Vermaelen in order to fill a hole at the back, as well as offer cover at left-back.
Wenger admitted yesterday while speaking ahead of the Emirates Cup, which gets underway today, that the 28-year-old could be sold this summer, and now the Guardian say that Manchester United are lining up a £12 million bid.
Should he make the move to Old Trafford, then the defender would be the first signing made by Manchester United since Van Gaal took charge. Both Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera have joined the club this summer but while the Dutchman was away at the World Cup.
They could face competition for his signature however, and the Guardian say that Barcelona are interested in him. One way that Manchester United could persuade Arsenal to sell to them is by offering a player in exchange who would act as Vermaelen's replacement.
Wenger confirmed yesterday that he would have a bring in a replacement if the former Ajax man goes, and the Guardian says that Manchester United defender Chris Smallling has been suggested as the right man for the job by Wenger.
Van Gaal has so far led Manchester United to three pre-season wins from three ahead of their clash against Real Madrid this evening, but is aware of his defensive frailties. Having worked with Vermaelen at Ajax, and with Mats Hummels seemingly unavailable, the Belgian could well be the man for the job.