Thomas Vermaelen would prefer to join Manchester United over Barcelona, according to Daily Mirror journalist Darren Lewis.
That is in spite of the fact that Barcelona have already launched a bid, believed to meet Arsenal's asking price of £10 million. However, Lewis also believes that Arsenal are doing everything in their power to stop Vermaelen moving to Old Trafford.
Old Trafford preference
Speaking to talkSPORT, Lewis said: "There has been a bid from Barcelona but I understand he would prefer to go to Manchester United.
"Obviously because Arsenal prefer him not to go to Manchester United they’re trying to get as much [money] out of them and scare them off."
If true, it would be a huge boost for Louis van Gaal and the Red Devils. Reports of a bid from the Nou Camp left Manchester United's pursuit of Vermaelen in tatters. There was little hope of them competing with the La Liga giants, who can offer a better chance of silverware as well as Champions League football next season.
Best of friends
However, there seems to be something drawing him towards Old Trafford. Vermaelen and Robin van Persie are known to share a close relationship from their days as team-mates and the Dutchman could be the magnet pulling the 28-year-old northwards.
Van Persie doesn't hold too many friends at the Emirates Stadium after his £24 million move to Old Trafford in 2012, but Vermaelen is one. The pair were even spotted on holiday together after the World Cup.
Set to leave Arsenal
Although his destination is not yet decided, Lewis believes Vermaelen's exit from the club is more or less a foregone conclusion. The journalist can't put his finger on it, but believes something behind the scenes has convinced Arsene Wenger that Vermaelen is no longer of the required standard to break into the Arsenal team.
He continued: "Clearly there is an issue. We don’t know what it is but at some level Arsene Wenger thinks Vermaelen has gone off the boil.
"The two players playing ahead of him – Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker – are doing very well for Arsenal but Wenger must believe Vermaelen is lacking something and is not good enough to break in ahead of them.
"Vermaelen is of the opinion that he needs to play regular first team football and I think he will definitely move on this summer."
Although Vermaelen would prefer a move to Manchester United it remains a fact that only Barcelona have launched a bid for the player. Even so, it was reportedly two months ago that Vermaelen had agreed, in principle, a £100,000-a-week contract with Manchester United meaning all Old Trafford officials have to do is agree a fee.
Wenger is fearing another backlash from fans if another captain joins a Premier League rival and will put off the deal until the final moments. However, it has been reported that he will sanction the sale if other options evaporate.
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