Manchester United: Deal close?

With Louis van Gaal appearing to favour tactics that he used with the Netherlands during the 2014 World Cup, it is likely that Manchester United will line up with a 3-5-2 formation at the start of the season. This means the club will want to bring in extra cover at centre back so that there is plenty of depth to cover injuries and suspension.

The departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand also mean that The Red Devils are light in defence, making it vital that they bring in reinforcements in that position as soon as possible.

They are now one-step closer to landing an additional centre back, with The Express reporting that Thomas Vermaelen has turned down a contract extension with Arsenal. This has given Manchester United the go-ahead to enter negotiations with Gunners over a player who they will not want to see leave for nothing next summer.

Thomas Vermaelen inches closer to Man Utd after refusing new contract at Arsenal

Arsene Wenger confirmed over the weekend that the 28-year-old could leave The Emirates during the transfer window further fuelling speculation that a deal with Manchester United was in place.

“It could happen. Yes, it’s a possibility that he goes and if he goes we have to replace him because he is an important player in our squad.”

Vermaelen has been at Arsenal since 2009 and has made over 100 league appearances for the side. He has been a vital part of the squad since joining from Ajax and is currently club captain.

The defender has had a tough season with the club over the past year though. He saw limited playing time due to Wenger preferring to partner Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny together in central defence.

This put his position in the Belgium national side under threat, which is believed to be the main reason that he wants to leave Arsenal, to find regular football elsewhere.

Manchester United are likely to face tough competition to land him however. His vast experience and undoubted talent has attracted other top European clubs, with both Barcelona and Napoli showing interest in making a move.