Barcelona have a big advantage over Manchester United in the race for Thomas Vermaelen because they agreed to sell Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal, reports The Daily Star.
Citing reports from Marca, the British tabloid claims that Barcelona officials built up a good relationship with their Arsenal counterparts when negotiating the £30 million deal that took Sanchez to the Emirates Stadium.
Barcelona are now set to use those bridges in order to gain an upper-hand over Manchester United in the race for Vermaelen. The 28-year-old is believed to be available for around £10 million.
Vermaelen is ready to leave Arsenal and has reportedly rejected Arsene Wenger's attempts to tie him down to a new contract. With just one-year left on his deal, Arsenal must decide to either sell him this summer or risk losing him for free in 2015.
Of course the ultimate decision will come down to where Vermaelen wants to go. Manchester United will likely match any offer Barcelona put forward, although Arsenal will be hoping he chooses La Liga.
Manchester United interest
The Gunners are understandably keen not to see another captain leave for Old Trafford following the controversial departure of Robin van Persie. The Dutchman represented a much heavier loss than Vermaelen would be although Arsenal fans won't be happy.
Barcelona represents a better option in footballing terms. The chance to play with Lionel Messi, coupled with Champions League participation is a one most footballers would jump at.
However, Vermaelen shares a close relationship with Van Persie - the pair were seen enjoying a holiday together after the World Cup - and the former-Arsenal striker could play a significant role in bringing Vermaelen to Old Trafford.
Whether Vermaelen chooses Barcelona or Manchester United, he is likely to be offered a key role in both set ups. That would be significantly better than his current role at Arsenal, where he has been understudy to Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker for 18 months.
Barcelona need a replacement for Carles Puyol and Louis van Gaal is looking for a versatile and technically gifted defender for his 3-5-2 formation. Manchester United currently have just Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans on the books following the departure of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Mats Hummels is also a rumoured target for both Luis Enrique and Van Gaal.
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