Louis Van Gaal ready to go for Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen

Spanish giants Barcelona also interested in signing Belgian centre half from the Gunners

Manchester United face competition from Barcelona for  Belgian defender Thomas Vermalen, with Arsenal preferring to sell abroad and not to a direct rival. Photograph:  Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Manchester United face competition from Barcelona for Belgian defender Thomas Vermalen, with Arsenal preferring to sell abroad and not to a direct rival. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Fri, Aug 1, 2014, 23:01

Manchester United have been given the green light to move for Thomas Vermaelen after Arsene Wenger admitted the Arsenal club captain could leave the club before the close of the transfer window.

However, United face competition from Barcelona for the Belgian defender, with Arsenal preferring to sell abroad and not to a direct rival.

Although the 28-year-old has a minor hamstring injury suffered with Belgium during the World Cup it is understood this is not an issue in any potential deal. Vermaelen, who would cost around €15 million, would be the first signing by Louis van Gaal since he became manager.

The Dutchman wants to sign two central defenders following the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and is an admirer of Vermaelen, who would play as the left-sided centre back in a 3-5-2 formation.

Arsenal would prefer to sell abroad though, with Barcelona firmly interested.

“At the moment, Thomas Vermaelen is here,” Wenger said. “It’s a possibility that he goes. If he goes, we have to replace him because he’s an important player in our squad.”

Asked if he expected Vermaelen to depart, Wenger said: “No, I expect him to stay but he, of course, did not play enough games last year.”

Wenger did admit he wants to strengthen further in the window. “I am very happy because I did what I wanted and I am still hoping to do more.” – Guardian Service

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