Manchester United transfer news: Thomas Vermaelen 'unwilling' to sign a new Arsenal contract - reports

Trio of clubs chasing the Belgian centre-back

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The Independent Football

Thomas Vermaelen is a step closer to leaving Arsenal because he is 'unwilling' to sign a new deal at the club, according to reports.

The Belgian centre-back has been a target of new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal all summer, but Barcelona and Napoli are also believed to be interested in the 28-year-old.

According to the Daily Mail, Vermaelen does not want to sign a new deal at the Emirates and will instead look to leave the club.

Arsene Wenger does not want to sell his club captain, but with just a year left on his contact the manager risks losing him for nothing next summer.

Vermaelen's close friendship with United striker Robin van Persie - with whom he shares an agent - is thought to be a factor. Arsenal have already rejected a bid of around £7m from United this summer.

Vermaelen, who missed the Emirates Cup with a hamstring injury, is Wenger's third choice in his position, with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker forming a formidable partnership.

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The former Ajax graduate started just 14 Premier League matches last season.