This is according to ESPN, who report that Vlaar is eager to reunite with manager Louis van Gaal, who coached the Dutch defender while managing the Netherlands national team. The 29-year-old was one of the best defenders at the World Cup finals in Brazil, and speculation linking him with a move to Old Trafford has been intense ever since.
Aston Villa want £12m for Vlaar
In order for Manchester United to sign Vlaar when the transfer window re-opens, the Red Devils would need to pay Aston Villa a fee in the region of £12 million. However, the West Midlands outfit will be acutely aware that Vlaar’s contract expires next summer, meaning the defender could walk away from Villa Park for nothing at the end of the season.
Villa, though, understand that Van Gaal is desperate to bolster his defensive options in the New Year in order to give his side the best possible chance of finishing inside the top four. And with a dearth of top-level defenders available, United might be prepared to pay over the odds for the player, even though he’ll have just six months left on his current deal.
"Vlaar was one of United manager Louis van Gaal's key defenders during the 2014 World Cup with the Netherlands, and the centre-back is eager to link up with his old international boss, having already agreed personal terms on a provisional basis." - ESPN.
Arsenal keen on Vlaar
Manchester United might be further encouraged to get a deal for Vlaar over the line, with Premier League rivals Arsenal also reportedly keen on the talismanic Dutchman.
Gunners’ boss Arsene Wenger is believed to be determined to add an extra defender to his ranks in January, with the inexperienced Calum Chambers used more than the French manager might have expected at the start of this season.
Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker would remain Arsenal’s first-choice central defenders, however, and this may deter the Aston Villa defender from agreeing a surprise move to the Emirates Stadium.
Other potential targets
If Manchester United fail to secure Vlaar’s services - Villa’s asking price could kill the deal - then there’s a chance Van Gaal could turn to Stoke City’s Ryan Shawcross.
The 27-year-old spent six years in United’s youth ranks before joining the Potters on a permanent contract in 2008, and has flourished during his spell at the Britannia Stadium.
But not all Manchester United supporters will be convinced that either Vlaar or Shawcross are good enough to become first-team regulars at Old Trafford.
The likes of Mats Hummels and Gerard Pique - of Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona, respectively - have also been linked with the Red Devils, but for the time being it seems Van Gaal has been forced to set his sights a little lower.
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