Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has agreed a shock deal to join Manchester United and could complete a move to Old Trafford after the World Cup finals. The Belgium international has fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium over the last 18 months - and all that remains now is for United to agree a fee with the centre-back's current employers.
This is according to the Telegraph, who claim that Vermaelen has verbally agreed a deal with United that will see him earn around £100,000-a-week. The 28-year-old, who has spent the last five years with Arsenal, currently earns a reported £70,000-a-week.
Vermaelen only has one year left on his current deal, which means Arsenal are unlikely to receive a fee in excess of £10 million for their skipper. The Belgian was once considered one of the Gunners' most important players, but a dip in form during the 2012/13 campaign led to Arsene Wenger dropping him in favour of a centre-back pairing comprised of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker.
The two defenders flourished, leaving Vermaelen reduced to a bit-part role. He made just 14 Premier League appearances for Arsenal last season and was expected to depart the north London outfit this summer, but Manchester United's interest still comes a surprise.
What appears to be key to the Red Devils' interest is the fact Vermaelen shares the same agent as star striker Robin van Persie, who has maintained a good relationship with the Arsenal captain despite leaving the club in the summer of 2012.
Vermaelen was appointed Arsenal skipper after Van Persie left the Gunners - and it seems the central defender could follow in his former teammate's footsteps by making a shock summer move to the 20-time English champions, who are desperate to strengthen after suffering their worst campaign of the Premier League era.
It's no secret that Van Persie has a very close relationship with the newly-appointed Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal - as was evident during the Netherlands' emphatic 5-1 victory over world and European champions Spain last Friday night - so perhaps it's not beyond the realms of possibility that the Dutch striker recommended Vermaelen as the perfect defensive signing for the Red Devils.
Whether Wenger will be reluctant to sell Vermaelen to Manchester United is unclear at this stage - but failure to cash in could lead to the Belgian leaving the Emirates Stadium on a free transfer next summer.
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