Vermaelen a Step Closer to Leaving the Emirates

Arsene Wenger has sparked new interest into the future of Thomas Vermaelen, after revealing that ongoing contract negotiations were not developing with the Belgian defender.

The centre-back, who will be looking to guarantee himself first team football next season, looks set to leave The Gunners, amidst rumours that he will join Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw at Manchester United, in what would be their third major signing of the summer transfer window.

Speaking after a pre-season friendly, Wenger stated that, “I cannot guarantee he will stay, but should he go I would bring another centre-back in for sure.” The Frenchman’s proposition of a new defender joining his side all but guarantees the Belgian’s departure, who has recently been pictured enjoying a holiday alongside Netherland’s captain and United forward Robin van Persie.

Vermaelen’s versatility and ability to play at left back, as well as in the heart of defense will surely be a selling point that Louis van Gaal will pick up on. With the Red Devils in need of major defensive restructuring after the exits of Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and former captain Nemanja Vidic, experience needs to be brought in to assist the transition and the development of what is considered a relatively young side.

The Belgian has also hinted at a move away from London, where he played second string to the impressive duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny for large parts of last season. Following Belgium’s World Cup exit at the hands of finalists Argentina, Vermaelen said: “I really do not know where I will play, Arsenal or elsewhere next season. All my attention went to the World Cup. I will see when I talk with Arsenal.”

Such discussions with his current club seemed to have stalled, meaning Manchester United could be on the brink of bringing the player to Old Trafford. Initial reports estimate a fee of around £8-14m, which would be a real coup for such an experienced and reliable defender.

Louis van Gaal has promised to give his squad three to four weeks to show their talent before he delves into an enormous transfer budget. However, if concerns with the defensive quality are raised during the tour of America, the possibility of this signing occurring will rise greatly.

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