Manchester United are planning a swoop for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen. The Mirror believes the Gunners may be willing to listen to offers for the Belgian international after settling on Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as first choice centre-backs.
Vermaelen is reportedly also a target for Catalan giants Barcelona, who will need to replace inspirational captain Carlos Puyol; the Spanish international is 35 years old and has been plagued by injuries for the past two seasons.
And unless there is a drastic dip in form for either Koscielny or Mertesacker, or either international suffers an injury, it appears Vermaelen's time at the emirates is coming to an end. The 27-year-old is believed to be keen on remaining in north London but Arsene Wenger is likely to be willing to release the former Ajax star if the offer is right.
Wenger could be faced with a decision in the summer, with news Champions League finalists Bayern Munich are hunting Koscielny. The long-serving Frenchman may have to choose between his two defenders and based on present form, his former captain will probably be the one to go.
Swansea City's Ashley Williams could be an option to replace Vermaelen.
Meanwhile, as far as United are concerned, a move for Vermaelen is likely to be backed by incoming boss David Moyes. The Scot takes over from 71-year-old compatriot Sir Alex Ferguson, who has resigned as Old Trafford boss.
The Premier League champions have an aging central defensive partnership in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, with both the Englishman and the Serbian having crossed 30. They do have Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, as well as Jonny Evans but Vermaelen would bring a degree of international experience that present options perhaps lack.
However, Vermaelen's future is by no means settled, with Wenger having been quoted as saying the defender was still a part of his first team plans.
Olivier Giroud on Champions League
Gunners' striker Olivier Giroud wants Champions League progress for the club. Wenger's men scraped into the final four of the season after a repeat of last season's final day heroics and will play a qualifying round to access the group stages of the Champions League.
"It's 16 years in a row we've succeeded to qualify for the Champions League. We knew it was really important. For me it will be the second season in the Champions League. We are competitors and want to play in the top games. I really enjoy playing against big clubs like Bayern Munich. I would like to go further next year," he told www.arsenal.com.