Arsenal and Manchester United are preparing a shock loan bid for Barcelona flop Thomas Vermaelen ahead of the January transfer window, reports The Express.
The defender swapped Emirates Stadium for the Nou Camp in the summer, completing a £15 million transfer despite being strongly linked with a move to Old Trafford. However, Vermaelen's start to life at Barcelona has been nothing short of a nightmare.
The 29-year-old has just returned to first team training after recovering from a recurring thigh injury and has since fallen out of Luis Enrique's plans. Vermaelen left Arsenal in search of first team football, but falling behind Javier Mascherano, Jeremy Mathieu and Gerard Pique in the pecking order, his situation has not improved.
Barcelona don't want to sell
Barcelona do not want to sell Vermaelen but are fully aware that he is unlikely to recapture his best form as a bit-part player. Instead they will be willing to send him back to the Premier League on loan for the rest of the season.
Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal need reinforcement in defence and are looking to make acquisitions in the January transfer window. Both the Gunners and the Red Devils have been struck down with a number of defensive injuries and those obvious frailties were on show when the two teams met on Saturday.
As a result, both teams are preparing to offer Vermaelen the chance to come back to the Premier League just six months after departing. Having left Arsenal in the summer, his sea in the changing room is probably still warm.
First team options
Laurent Koscielny is continuing to struggle with an Achilles problem and Wenger has hinted an extended period on the sidelines is possible. As a result, Vermaelen could be guaranteed a first team place ahead of the hapless Nacho Monreal.
However, rejoining the team he used to captain may be a touch awkward for the Belgian, who may prefer to keep his ties severed and join Manchester United instead. Robin van Persie is a good friend of Vermaelen's and, with no European football, just one game a week may be the perfect environment for rebuilding form, fitness and confidence.