Manchester United's Move for Arsenal Defender Thomas Vermaelen Makes Sense

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentAugust 7, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 12:  Marc-Antoine Fortune of Wigan Athletic is tackled by Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal during the FA Cup Semi-Final match between Wigan Athletic and Arsenal at Wembley Stadium on April 12, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

It's easy to see why some Manchester United fans aren't happy about the prospect of their club signing Thomas Vermaelen.

He can't get into the Arsenal team. He's injury prone. And at 28-years-old, he's not young, either.

He's not the big name the supporters wanted this summer. They had hopes of welcoming Mats Hummels to Old Trafford to fill the voids left by the Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand departures.

Vermaelen isn't a name to get the fans excited. But it's not the fans who make the decisions; it's Louis van Gaal.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 17:  Captain Thomas Vermaelen of Arsenal passes the trophy to Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal (R) after the FA Cup with Budweiser Final match between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on May 17, 2014 in London, England.  (Pho
Clive Mason/Getty Images

And the Dutchman wants Vermaelen. Arsene Wenger revealed as much this week.

Van Gaal inherited a squad with a weakness at centre-half. Ferdinand and Vidic have gone, leaving Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling as the only first-team centre-backs.

Michael Keane and Tyler Blackett were part of the touring party in the United States. But both are inexperienced.

The issue at the back has been highlighted by Van Gaal's new system. He played with a back three in all five games in America. 

DENVER, CO - JULY 26: Manager Louis van Gaal walks on the pitch before a game against AS Roma during an International Champions Cup match at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on July 26, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Manchester United defeated AS Roma 3-2.
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

And his comments suggest he'll stick with it when the new Premier League season kicks off with a game against Swansea City at Old Trafford on August 16.

But United can't play three at the back with just three centre-halves. And an injury to Evans, Smalling and Jones, who have all had problems in the past, could ruin their season.

Van Gaal is also looking for a defender who's comfortable on the ball. It's a necessity in his system. 

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 13:  Ezequiel Lavezzi of Argentina controls the ball against Mats Hummels of Germany during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Ph
Martin Rose/Getty Images

It's why he's interested in Hummels, as reported by Ian Herbet of the London Evening Standard. It's also the reason why Vermaelen is on his list of potential targets. He wants someone who can step out of the defence and pass the ball.

It's so important to the way he plays that many Dutch journalists think Michael Carrick could find himself in the back three next season.

Vermaelen might have lost his place at the Emirates to Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny. But he fits a very specific need for Van Gaal.

And more importantly, he's available. And cheap. Or at least, cheaper than Hummels.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10:  Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United competes with Thomas Vermaelen  of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford on November 10, 2013 in Manchester, England.
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Vermaelen's injury record makes signing him a gamble. But then so is any transfer.

But if he can rediscover the form that earned him a place in the Premier League team of the year in 2010, it will be money well spent.

There's no guarantee Wenger will let it happen. His preference is for Vermaelen to move abroad. 

But Van Gaal's interest does make sense. Even if it's not what United fans expected this summer.


All information obtained firsthand.


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