Manchester United have had their noses rubbed in the dirt with regards to the rejection they endured at the hands of Arsenal’s Thomas Vermaelen.
According to Goal during the Belgian’s first press conference as a Barcelona star, following his £15 million switch to the Nou Camp today, he detailed how it was “easy” to opt for a move to La Liga, despite the fact that United ranked strongly amongst his other suitors. Louis van Gaal’s primary concern in the current climate is the addition of a top level centre-back, and the Dutchman was said to have pinpointed Vermaelen as his ideal choice.
However, although it was reported on more than one occasion that the 28-year-old was close to making a controversial switch to Old Trafford, the player himself has revealed that there was only ever one choice for him.
Vermaelen on his move to Barca
"The decision was easy," Vermaelen said.
"It's one of the biggest clubs in the world.
"Everyone wants to play here and it's no different for me. That's why I chose this club."
Of course now, regardless of the sour taste no doubt residing in his mouth, Van Gaal has to go back to the drawing board and construct a list of alternatives. It’s said that Mehdi Benatia or Roma and Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund are wanted for their vast levels of experience, though both men will be hard to prise away from their current clubs due to their important roles.
Reports today claim that Van Gaal is all too aware of this, and so has identified Olympiacos youngster Kostas Manolas as a backup option. The 23-year-old enjoyed a steady World Cup with Greece, and would cost significantly less to buy than anyone else mentioned thus far.
In a somewhat isolated scenario, it doesn’t appear that Arsene Wenger is going to face any fan backlash for letting Vermaelen go, despite the fact he was club captain.
For the majority of last season the Belgian international had found himself struggling behind Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, and the addition of Calum Chambers should alleviate concerns over their being a space needed to be filled.