Thomas Vermaelen and Manchester United talk gathers pace

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has reportedly agreed to join Manchester United.

The 28-year-old Gunners’ skipper has been a peripheral figure at the Emirates for the last 18 months since being dropped from the starting line up in favour of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny by manager Arsene Wenger.

The Belgium international had cut a frustrated figure on the bench at the Emirates this term but did not publicly voice any discontent. However, it may prove welcome news to the centre back that he is wanted at Old Trafford by new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal, according to reports.

The Netherlands coach is reportedly keen on brining in some experience to the defensive ranks at United and with 47 caps for Belgium and four years experience in the Premier League, Vermaelen could be just what the Dutch master is looking for.

Reports originating in the Daily Telegraph suggest the Arsenal captain has verbally agreed a £100,000-a-week deal to join the Red Devils this summer.

Whilst he may have fallen out of favour at the Emirates, there is no doubt that Thomas Vermaelen possesses quality and experience in abundance. Perhaps the primary reason for his ousting from the line-up has been more circumstantial – both he and Frenchman Koscielny perform better alongside the German Mertesacker and whilst Vermaelen has struggled with injuries both his competitors for his position have enjoyed a good bill of health in the last 18 months.

Vermaelen was initially dropped by the manager following the Gunners’ defeat to Tottenham in the North London derby of March 2013 ahead of their clash with Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The manager dropped his captain and his No.1 goalkeeper Wojceich Szczesny but the risk paid off as the Gunners won 2-0 against the eventual European champions at the Allianz Arena. Since then, the partnership of Mertesacker and Koscielny has gone from strength to strength and Vermaelen was granted just seven starts by Wenger in the Premier League last term.

He had, however, been regarded as the North Londoners’ most reliable defender since he arrived to great approval in 2009 from Ajax where he had trained since the age of 15. He was named captain for his country just four months after he signed for Arsenal but has since been replaced by Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany.

He is the Belgian vice-captain for this World Cup but will have to compete for his place alongside the Citizens captain with the likes of Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen and Atletico Madrid’s Toby Alderweireld.

Should he join the Red Devils he would be the second Arsenal captain in two years to depart from the Emirates to join Manchester United following Robin van Persie's controversial exit in 2012.

The Dutch striker left just 12 months after the previous Gunners skipper Cesc Fabregas left to return home to Barcelona in 2011 but after just three years in La Liga the Spain international now returns to the Premier League this summer to join London rivals Chelsea.

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