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Manchester United close to capturing defensive duo

Manchester United, 9/4 to be top north west club this campaign, could be about to sign defensive duo Thomas Vermaelen and Daley Blind, according to reports.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger recently admitted that it is “a possibility that he [Vermaelen] goes” with the Red Devils and Barcelona believed to be locked in a fierce battle for the ball-playing centre back’s services. The Catalan giants are rumoured to have had a £10m bid rejected last week, with the Gunners expected to hold out for a fee closer to £15m.

Speaking ahead of the Community Shield clash with Manchester City, Wenger revealed:”Are Man United one of the teams to have made an offer? I think they could be in the group…Vermaelen could leave us because he needs to play now. We’re in a position where it’s difficult to stand in his way if he finds an interesting opportunity.”

It appears Old Trafford is Vermaelen’s favoured destination, with new boss Louis van Gaal able to offer the experienced Belgian a chance of first-team football, and the opportunity to link up with ex-Arsenal teammate Robin van Persie.

If Vermaelen, 28, departs the north London club this summer, it will be the third time in four seasons Arsenal have sold their skipper. Previous captains Cesc Fabregas and Van Persie have also exited the Emirates to join European rivals Barcelona and United respectively.

The Gunners have also seen a host of top players such as Emmaneul Adebayor, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and Bacary Sagna leave to join Manchester City in recent seasons, with the latter departing on a free transfer, meaning Wenger will be keen to secure the best deal for his club this time around.

Vermaelen is entering the final year of his contract, and after losing his place in the north London side due to injuries and the form of first-choice pair Per Metesacker and Laurent Koscielny, is seemingly keen to make the move to Manchester for a fresh start.

It is believed Arsenal would prefer to sell the Belgium international to a club abroad, with Barca fitting the bill perfectly, but after seemingly missing out on Mats Hummels, United may be prepared to part with more cash to lure Van Gaal’s top target.

If Vermaelen is allowed to move to Old Trafford he would become the Red Devils most senior defender, following the departures of veterans Patrice Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. With only injury-prone first-team trio Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at his disposal, despite bright pre-season showings from youngsters Tyler Blackett and Michael Keane, Van Gaal is keen to make additions.

Ex-Ajax centre half Vermaelen, who is odds-on at 8/11 to sign for United before the transfer window closes is a natural left footer, an attribute the Red Devils lack. He would be also able to provide back up for full back Luke Shaw, making him an ideal signing, along with versatile Netherlands star Blind.

Blind has reportedly attracted interest from a host of top European clubs, but Van Gaal appears to hold all the cards, having played a part in developing his compatriot. Blind was deployed in several positions, including left back and defensive midfield, to great effect by Van Gaal during the Netherland’s World Cup campaign, and the pair appear to enjoy a strong working relationship.

The adaptable Dutchman would be able to plug several gaps in the Red United’s squad, but has shown he can be more than a back-up player after his impressive performances for the Clockwork Orange in Brazil.

As a former pupil of Van Gaal, the Ajax star would need little time to adapt, which could be key to a much-needed quick start for the Red Devils, who are 5/1 to win the Premier League, and need to hit the ground running after last term’s disappointing campaign