Updates from Saturday, August 9
Barcelona announced the signing of Vermaelen on Saturday:
FC Barcelona and Arsenal FC have reached an agreement for the transfer of the Belgian international, who will sign a five-year contract with the Catalan club
Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen has passed his medical ahead of a proposed €19 million move to Barcelona.
The centre-back agreed to join the Catalan club late last week, after rejecting the overtures of Manchester United in favour of a summer switch to Camp Nou.
Spanish newspaper Sport's English Twitter feed reported Barcelona manager Luis Enrique's thoughts on the potential Vermaelen deal:
Enrique: "The Vermaelen deal is done? Until there's official confirmation, I don't talk about players who are not part of my squad."— SPORT English (@Sport_EN) August 9, 2014
Pete O'Rourke Sky Sports has the latest on Vermaelen's potential move:
Updates from Friday, Aug. 8
Arsenal and Barcelona have struck an agreement for the transfer of Thomas Vermaelen.
BBC Sport reports:
Spanish football and B/R UK expert Guillem Balague substantiates the report, claiming Barcelona—not Manchester United—are on the verge of winning the race for Vermaelen:
Barcelona convinced everything done 4 Vermaelen 2 be under Luis Enrique's orders very soon. They r sure 2 have beaten Utd for his signature— Guillem Balague (@GuillemBalague) August 8, 2014
Sky Sports insists United have officially ended their pursuit of the defender:
Sky Sources: Man Utd end interest in Arsenal Thomas Vermaelen after refusing to consider swap deal #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) August 8, 2014
Updates from Thursday, Aug. 7
Arsene Wenger has once again confessed Thomas Vermaelen will likely leave Arsenal this summer, suggesting Manchester United are among the teams attempting to buy him.
Julien Laurens of Le Parisien tweeted:
Wenger confirms bids have been made for Vermaelen. "Manchester United are part of the group (of bidders)" and added "he could leave.". #afc— Julien Laurens (@LaurensJulien) August 7, 2014
Wenger told reporters, via Arsenal's official Twitter:
Wenger: "Vermaelen could leave us because he needs to play now. We're in a position where it's difficult to stand in his way"#AFCvMCFC— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) August 7, 2014
United are braced to offer Arsenal an extra £5 million than Barcelona have tabled for Vermaelen, according to multiple reports on Thursday.
The Daily Mail's Joe Bernstein writes:
Manchester United are prepared to stump up £15million to beat Barcelona to the signature of Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward accepts he will have to pay a premium price for Vermaelen because Arsenal would prefer to see him go to La Liga than play for one of their Premier League rivals.
Updates from Wednesday, Aug. 6
Barcelona have made a £10 million bid for Thomas Vermaelen, according to Pete O'Rourke of Sky Sports:
Manchester United and Barca are both thought to have expressed an interest in Vermaelen, but now the Catalan club have firmed up their interest with a £10million bid for the 28-year-old.
Thomas Vermaelen's possible summer exit from the Emirates Stadium looks all the more assured after news emerged that the Arsenal captain is unwilling to sign a new deal at the club.
This works in favour of Manchester United, Barcelona and Napoli, all of whom Sami Mokbel of the Daily Mail reports as being interested in taking the Belgian away from his north London surroundings.
It means the Gunners' risk of losing Vermaelen for free next year is all the greater, leading to intensified speculation that his departure will come about during the current window.
As Mokbel states, Arsenal would prefer not to sell to Premier League opposition, especially with Louis van Gaal's side bidding to return to the division's top four.
Metro writer Lee Hurley even goes as far as reporting that the Gunners will refuse to sell to the Red Devils:
Reports Arsenal are refusing to sell Vermaelen to United - Me for Metro http://t.co/DbfxVGtwFS— Lee Hurley (@HLeeHurley) August 4, 2014
United have already seen a £7 million bid for the versatile centre-back rejected, per Mokbel's report, although James Dickenson of the Express claims the Red Devils will return with an offer of Nani moving in the opposite direction.
David Lynch of the Manchester Evening News has suggested Vermaelen would be an acceptable alternative for United should they fail in their bid to land Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels:
Luis Enrique has already signed Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia this summer, but defence stood out as La Blaugrana's main issue in need of addressing last season. Too often, Barca were left to rely upon Javier Mascherano as a makeshift centre-back in the absence of Gerard Pique or Carles Puyol.
Arsene Wenger helped push the notion of Vermaelen's exit last week, admitting his squad leader could leave, per Sky Sports:
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.
I expect him to stay but of course he did not play enough games last year. For me he is a very important player but I couldn’t give him the games that he wanted last year so I will see.
The emergence of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as the manager's centre-back pairing of choice has seen Vermaelen slip down the pecking order at the Emirates.
Should Arsenal sell Vermaelen this summer?
The 28-year-old was used mostly as cover in central defence and left-back last season, but any switch could see him regain a starting spot, whether it's at Old Trafford, Camp Nou or in Naples.
However, for that to come about, the Gunners will need their valuation of the player to be met. Vermaelen still offers resourceful defensive cover, so Wenger will not be desperate to push him through any exit doors.
With the competition for his services heating up, Vermaelen's availability could yet lead to a summer bidding war in the four weeks remaining of the summer window. In such a scenario, Wenger himself may feel the need to head back into the market to replace the Belgian.