Manchester United might want to look elsewhere for depth in defense.
I know there has been a lot of talk and a lot of rumours but the only thing I can say is that it's not true. Everybody understands my situation at Arsenal and that I have one year left. I understand that people are going to talk but I am here in Brazil and I am enjoying my time and I'm focused on what I am doing.
It should be noted, of course, that Vermaelen likely was never going to come out and say, "Hey, I can't wait to join Manchester United, screw those Gunners!" while he was still under contract with the latter. Until the pen is to paper, he'll likely deny any reports.
But you couldn't blame him for wanting to depart Arsenal. He found himself third choice at centre-back this year, as the duo of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny thrived, and it's hard to imagine Vermaelen breaking up the pair outside of injury.
With Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand now gone, the position is one of need for United. And though Vermaelen lost his place at Arsenal, one would think he would be the front-runner to earn a starting gig if he made the move to Old Trafford. He would certainly bring a bit more of an attacking flair to the position, per WhoScored.com:
But United can't rely on Arsene Wenger simply relenting and letting another player go to a rival. After all, while the Robin van Persie sale seems like a tidy bit of business for the Gunners in hindsight, the Dutch forward still helped United win a Premier League title two seasons ago after joining from Arsenal.
It would appear that United have other plans in the transfer market (or at least are rumoured to). One such player, Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels, has been linked to the club. Granted, he's linked to a slew of major European clubs every summer.
And he's also denied he's going anywhere this summer.
“I never think about that or talk about it because it is something that isn’t important for me right now,” Hummels told David McDonnell of the Mirror in regard to any talk of him making a move. “Maybe it will be some day, but I don’t expect it to be like that this summer.”
He has a World Cup to focus on, after all. And it's not as though Borussia Dortmund are some second-rate club. He has familiarity, Champions League football and the chance to compete for league titles there (even if Bayern Munich have ruled the Bundesliga with an iron fist the past two seasons).
So perhaps it should be said that United need a backup plan for both Vermaelen and Hummels. Each would represent an upgrade at the position—particularly Hummels—but for the moment, it seems neither is likely to be heading to Old Trafford this summer.
Gone are the days, it seems, when Manchester United simply express interest in a player and land their man. Did the 2013-14 season steal some of United's global appeal?
It seems a bit hasty to suggest that's the case. And a big summer, with big signings, would instantly dispel that notion. But outside of addressing the midfield, solidifying the centre-back ranks must be a top priority this summer.
Even if they can't land their top two choices.