Manchester United face strong competition from Barcelona in the race to sign Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen according to reports in Spain.
Spanish newspaper El Mundo Deportivo claims the Catalan outfit have stepped up their interest in the Belgian, as they look to bolster their defensive options following the retirement of former captain Carles Puyol.
Barcelona have already signed Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia and hoped to clinch the signature of Marquinhos from PSG, only to be told the Brazilian will not leave Paris for less than £35m and El Mundo Deportivo suggest Marquinhos’ price tag has seen them moving towards Vermaelen, who could be available for around £10m given that his contract is up in 12 months.
The Belgian has been on United’s radar for over a month now and alongside Mats Hummels he had emerged as the main defensive target for Louis Van Gaal, who is looking to replace Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand at the heart of United’s defence.
Vermaelen’s ability to play at left-back made him an even more appealing prospect as far as United are concerned, given Van Gaal is still looking for backup to Luke Shaw, while the Belgian’s Premier League experience is not something that can be dismissed lightly either.
Arsene Wenger admitted he could not guarantee the defender will be at the Emirates this season and it has allowed the rumours to continue gathering pace. Whether United do follow through this interest up remains to be seen but it doesn’t look like the Vermaelen rumours will leave any time soon.