It is one of this season’s longest running transfer stories – the tale of Thomas Vermaelen, the 28-year-old Arsenal defender, who may or may not, depending on who you believe, have been deemed surplus to requirements at The Emirates. Yet even though the window is closing in just over three weeks and the season is starting this weekend, the Belgian seems no closer knowing where he will be playing come September.
It all seems down to three options
1. Stay at Arsenal
Does Wenger rate the Belgian? Well he clearly did once as he made him his captain. However last season Vermaelen only played 14 games for the Gunners, in spite of the fact that Per Mertasacker and, especially Laurent Koscielny, were run into the ground. Vermaelen’s contract is also due to expire in 2015, so Wenger will have to cash in on the defender or let him leave for free next summer. There are rumours that Wenger has been trying to get Vermaelen to sign a new contract, but given the lack of faith that the manager has shown in the player this seems unlikely. Maybe Wenger is waiting to line up a replacement for Vermaelen before he lets him go.
2. Manchester United
There’s no denying that Vermaelen would fit in well at United. Van Gaal is apparently keen on having at least left-footed defender in the back, Vermaelen has plenty of Premier League experience and The Reds are short on experienced players at the back after the exits of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
However the elephant in the room which might scupper the transfer is one Robyn Van Persie. Wenger was widely criticised by Arsenal fans for selling RVP to United and in effect gifting his rivals the title in 2013. United have already offered £7 million for the defender, however it is clearly not enough for Arsenal. A swap deal involving Jones, Smalling or even Nani has also been mooted, but Wenger appears to be looking elsewhere and it seems that the United deal would end up a last resort. And whether Van Gaal is prepared to wait until the end of the window before signing a centre back remains to be seen.
Barcelona have apparently already trumped Manchester’s meagre £7 million offer with a £10 million bid for the defender. New manager Luis Enrique is looking for a new defender to experience recently retired Puyol and Vermaelen would fit the bill. A move to Barcelona seems like the most likely outcome, especially since Arsenal’s strong relationship with the Catalans. It seems more likely for Vermaelen to be going abroad, rather than going to a rival club.