Arsene Wenger has revealed he doesn’t think German stars Per Mertesacker, Mesut Ozil and Lukas Podolski will be fit and ready for the start of the new Premier League season.
The trio have been given extra time off following Germany’s successful World Cup campaign and won’t return for pre-season training until August 11, just before the start of the season.
Therefore, Arsenal’s first game against Crystal Palace could see them without three key players, which could have knock on effects for Manchester United’s pursuit of centre-back Thomas Vermaelen.
“I have given them a good break because I have experience of players who have been in the World Cup final. You need a rest,” said Wenger.
“Will they be ready? Mertesacker prepares well - but for the first game I don't think they will be ready for August 16.”
Unless Wenger can sign a replacement for Vermaelen over the next couple of weeks leading into the new season, it’s unlikely that he will commission the Belgian to complete any move to United.
Reports have always maintained that Wenger will not allow Vermaelen to leave if it risks weakening his back four, which it would do if another defender is not in place before that game against Crystal Palace.
While Vermaelen has fallen behind Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in the pecking order at Arsenal, he remains a very competent defender and someone who is capable of stepping in.
A situation similar to before Samir Nasri could develop, where the Frenchman was required to play for Arsenal at the start of a season before he was allowed to go and complete a move to Manchester City.
Wenger didn’t immediately allow Nasri to leave because it would have weakened his side over the opening couple of weeks of the campaign.
It’s not a blow for United, simply a delay and that delay could be eradicated if Wenger adds an experienced centre-back to his squad before Mertesacker is fit enough to start games again.