Arsenal are reportedly holding off on Thomas Vermaelen's transfer move to Manchester United as Arsene Wenger wants to sign a replacement first, and the Red Devils shouldn't wait for the Gunners to finally make up their minds.
Per Goal's Wayne Veysey, Wenger is very specific in his demands for a new defender, as he looks for someone with Premier League experience and the ability to fit Arsenal's system immediately.
As a result, it could still be a while before the French manager green-lights a transfer move for club captain Vermaelen, who refused to acknowledge he had already made up his mind regarding a transfer last week, as reported by Sky Sports:
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.
We talk a lot when I am at Arsenal but it's not what I am going to discuss here, it is something you are going to have to ask him [Wenger].
There's no denying Vermaelen would be a good addition to United's squad, for the right price. He's an athletic, experienced Premier League defender who fell down Arsenal's pecking order after a difficult period with the club, but there's no reason he couldn't bounce back.
At worst, Vermaelen is a solid option off the bench, capable of replacing one of the starters without too much of a drop-off in quality. At best, he rediscovers his old form and the one he regularly displays for the Belgian national team, giving Louis van Gaal a versatile top defender to work with.
For all of his quality, however, he's one of many defensive options potentially available on the market, and if Van Gaal is serious about upgrading the Red Devils' defensive unit, he can't afford to wait for the Belgian international.
More importantly, he can't wait for Arsenal. Sure, it's understandable Wenger would prefer to find a replacement for his captain before dealing, but the world doesn't stop turning just because Wenger needs some time to make up his mind.
The Frenchman is currently busy playing beach football in Brazil, per the Daily Mirror's Jack Lang:
Van Gaal is new to the Premier League, and this will be his first time dealing with a direct rival as manager of Manchester United.
The whole situation reeks of being about more than just a centre-back—it's as if Wenger wants to make sure Van Gaal knows how the Gunners do business, and that he can't just come in and start splashing the cash.
Of course, he can. Per Veysey, Napoli are the other team who have enquired about Vermaelen, and their transfer budget is nothing compared to the millions and millions a club the magnitude of United can put on the table.
This is Van Gaal's chance to let the Premier League know he means business. Wenger isn't willing to deal? Walk away. Wenger is looking for a replacement with Premier League experience? I'm sure United could use a player like that as well.
Why not inquire about Dejan Lovren? The Southampton man appears to be the most-wanted Premier League defender on the market this summer, with a host of top teams looking into his signature.
The key here is that Wenger would rather deal with Napoli, who aren't direct rivals, and he wants to make he sure he not only adds an adequate replacement, but he gets the best offer for his captain.
By walking away from the negotiating table, United would leave Arsenal with only Napoli as an interested party, effectively eliminating the possibility of the latter. It's a power move and a gamble, but we're not talking about a world-class striker here. Vermaelen is a back-up defender. Clubs like United don't bend over backwards for back-ups.
The Red Devils need to start looking at alternative options, like Lovren, to make sure they don't end the summer transfer window with empty hands. If Arsenal still want to deal in a couple of weeks, Wenger can always pick up the phone himself.