Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thwarting Louis van Gaal over transfer

Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, Borussia Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels and Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal are United's top targets this summer

Manchester United’s attempts to rebuild their central defence have been thwarted by Arsenal’s manager, Arsène Wenger, who has not yet agreed to sanction Thomas Vermaelen’s departure to Old Trafford.

The new United manager, Louis van Gaal, who will arrive in Manchester on Tuesday to take up his position, is understood to have identified the Belgian as a target following the departure of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. But though Wenger knows that vetoing the Belgian’s move north risks Arsenal losing him on a free transfer when he is out of contract next summer, the move has been blocked so far.

Wenger lost faith in Vermaelen last season, preferring Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny in central defence and giving the 28-year-old only seven Premier League starts. Vermaelen has also suffered a chronic loss of form for a Belgium team in which he made only one appearance in the World Cup – limping off after 30 minutes in the 1-0 win over Russia. He was poor against Luxembourg in a World Cup warm-up game and few complained when the veteran Daniel van Buyten was preferred to him in Brazil. At the turn of the year his World Cup starting place had seemed assured.

Arsène Wenger Arsène Wenger  

Van Gaal clearly believes he can restore the confidence of the player whom Wenger signed from Ajax in 2009. But United’s three top targets under their new manager are Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria, Borussia Dortmund central defender Mats Hummels and Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal. Though there has, as yet, been no contact between United and Real Madrid over Di Maria, there is a willingness at the Spanish club to sell a player who was an outstanding member of the La Liga-winning campaign last season – and who would be a big improvement on Nani or Ashley Young, who offered minimal quality from wide areas last season. There would be a willingness to let Nani go, though United’s hopes of moving him on to Juventus are yet to materialise.

Angel Di Maria is among United's targets Angel Di Maria is among United's targets  

Real have been looking to loosen their connection with the Jorge Mendes stable of players – of whom Di Maria was one – which was strengthened during Jose Mourinho’s three years as manager there. There has always been a sense at the Bernabeu that the €25 million (£19m) Mourinho insisted be paid out to Benfica for Di Maria was too much.

 

The purchase of the Colombian James Rodriguez from AS Monaco would also equip Real with a player more capable of being a star piece of global commercial property. The Argentinian Di Maria is not the most photogenic of players, which it is thought may actually influence president Florentino Perez’s thinking. Van Gaal’s desire to sign Di Maria may depend on Real manager Carlo Ancelotti being talked round. The Italian is understood to be deeply unhappy at the prospect of selling him.

United have already spent £56.8m this summer, on England left-back Luke Shaw – signed from Southampton – and Ander Herrera, the Spanish midfielder. The remaining targets include another midfielder, a centre-half and a winger/forward.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
News
Andy Murray shakes hands after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round of Wimbledon, Saturday 4 July, 2015
Wimbledon
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'