Barcelona officials have flown to London to try and finalise a deal for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, reports Mundo Deportivo.
The La Liga outfit reportedly submitted a bid in the region of £10 million earlier this week, matching Arsenal's asking price for the central defender. Barcelona have now sent their chief transfer officials to the Emirates Stadium for a final round of talks.
Arsenal keen to sell
Arsenal are keen to see Vermaelen leave for the Nou Camp, knowing the alternative is agreeing a deal with Premier League rivals Manchester United. Louis van Gaal has reportedly placed Vermaelen as one of his top targets with some sources claiming he will be £15 million to try to tempt Arsenal into a sale.
Arsene Wenger, however, is fearing a backlash from Arsenal fans; an inevitable consequence of agreeing to sell a second captain to a rival club in the space of two years. The Arsenal boss doesn't seem to believe Vermaelen has a future in north London, but doesn't want to meet him again in the Premier League next season. It is therefore likely that Barcelona will not have to match Manchester United's £15 million proposal.
Second choice signing
The Spanish newspaper claims that Barcelona's interest in Vermaelen has been born out of PSG's reluctance to sell Brazilian sensation Marquinhos. The Ligue 1 champions have already turned down a bid in the region of €40 million from Barcelona with Luis Enrique reluctant to strain the club's finances by going higher.
Vermaelen won't sign Barcelona if he is only offered a bit-part role in the squad, especially when Van Gaal is offering pride of place in the Old Trafford defence. So Barcelona are considering shelving their plans to sign Marquinhos as a result.
Vermaelen prefers Manchester United
As previously mentioned, Vermaelen is concerned about his potential role in the Barcelona squad. The 28-year-old is seeking first team football and knows he will get it at Manchester United. As his best friend, Robin van Persie, is also flourishing at Old Trafford, it appears that Vermaelen would prefer a move there despite the lack of first team football.
Barcelona have, therefore, got some work to do with regards to convincing Vermaelen to move to Catalunya. Reports suggest that Van Gaal will offer Vermaelen £100,000-a-week, making it a financially attractive move as well as professionally.
Destined to leave
Wherever he goes, Vermaelen looks set to depart the Emirates Stadium. His position within Arsenal's squad is untenable and even if he does stay he is likely to lose the armband to a first team player.