According to Matt Law of The Telegraph, the player has agreed a deal in principle to make to switch to Old Trafford this summer, and now the two clubs will look to agree a fee for Vermaelen’s services. The Belgian international will reportedly pick up a salary of £100,000 a week upon making the move.
After already losing Bacary Sagna to Manchester City ahead of the 2014-15 campaign, per BBC Sport, the news will certainly come as a shock to Arsenal supporters, as the club looks set to start next season without two senior defensive figures.
Piers Morgan certainly didn’t seem overly thrilled by the prospect of yet another Arsenal player making a move to Manchester:
Vermaelen struggled to nail down a regular first-team spot last season after Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker formed a formidable partnership at the heart of the Arsenal defence. But if he was to depart, it would leave the Gunners without any real back-up options of genuine quality in the centre-back positions.
But perhaps what is most riling for Arsenal supporters is the prospect of losing yet another player to one of their Manchester-based Premier League rivals.
In recent years, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and now Sagna have been poached by City, while there is now a seemingly probable possibility of Vermaelen joining former Arsenal skipper Robin van Persie at Old Trafford.
From a United perspective, Vermaelen could be an extremely astute piece of business. The player has one year left on his Arsenal deal, so any potential fee agreed between the two clubs would not be excessive.
You suspect new boss Louis van Gaal would welcome a man of the Belgian’s experience too, especially as he will be without Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand next season, who have both left the club.
Bleacher Report's Chris Atkins thinks Vermaelen would be an intriguing signing for Van Gaal:
Vermaelen is an interesting potential signing for #MUFC. Good on the ball which Van Gaal likes and in the right side a very good defender— Christopher Atkins (@ChrisAtkins_) June 16, 2014
Upon his immediate arrival in England, Vermaelen went on to establish himself as one of the Premier League’s leading central defenders. But since that fine debut season, a host of injuries have seen his first-team opportunities limited, and after the success enjoyed by Koscielny and Mertesacker at the back, Vermaelen’s been limited mainly to appearances at left-back and in the minor competitions.
Speaking ahead of the World Cup, Vermaelen spoke of how frustrating it's been for him to be sitting on the bench, per The Sun (h/t Sky Sports):
I've a lot of experience of sitting on the bench then coming back so I'm not worried about being match fit.
I am not thinking beyond that. Next season is the future and we will see about that.
At United, he’d surely play on a much more regular basis and be afforded the time to rediscover his very best form. The 28-year-old still has plenty of good years in him yet, and his dynamic, front-foot style of defending would suit the stylistic mantras of Van Gaal perfectly.
Would Vermaelen be a good signing for United?
The move means Arsene Wenger would have to bolster his back line a little more than he was anticipating this summer, though. Sagna always looked likely to walk away given the imminent expiration of his contract, but Vermaelen’s departure is a little more unexpected.
While it may not be be obviously and immediately detrimental for the Arsenal first XI, losing their captain to an immediate rival—and not for the first time, either—will leave an extremely bitter taste for the Gunners’ faithful.