Vermaelen’s United move in doubt.Manchester United could be dealt the blow of missing out on Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, with the Gunners making a late effort to offer him in an exchange deal with Napoli, CaughtOffside understands.
United had long looked the favourites to sign the out-of-favour Belgian international this summer, with new manager Louis van Gaal seemingly a fan of the player and keen to sign him up in a new-look back four for next season.
However, Arsenal are known to be keen to avoid selling Vermaelen to a Premier League rival, and could make a last-ditch effort to ensure he moves abroad as they look to offer him as well as cash for Napoli winger Lorenzo Insigne.
Arsene Wenger is a big fan of the young Italian and has been linked with him before, only for the Naples outfit to state that he was not for sale except for an astronomical fee in the region of £60m.
Arsenal are unwilling to pay that amount, but will now try their luck with a fee believed to be around £30m as well as long-time Napoli target Vermaelen to help push the deal through and put a halt to the former Ajax man’s proposed switch to Old Trafford.
The 28-year-old is understood to have agreed personal terms with the Red Devils to join them this summer, but may still consider a move to Serie A if Napoli accept the Gunners’ cash-plus-player offer.
This would come as a major blow for United as they desperately look for new defensive signings to replace the vastly experienced departing duo of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
The likes of Stefan de Brij of Feyenoord and Miranda of Atletico Madrid have also been linked as top targets for the club, and it is likely that at least two new centre-backs will be brought in by van Gaal, who will still be hoping there is a chance of landing Vermaelen.
For Arsenal, this deal would be perfect as it would also see them land a top-class wide-player after their struggles to land the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Pedro Rodriguez and Juan Cuadrado this summer, with Insigne looking an outstanding prospect.
The 23-year-old weighed in with six goals and seven assists last season, and would provide Wenger’s side with some genuine width on both flanks, with only the injury-prone Theo Walcott offering that variety to the squad at the moment.
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