Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen Reuters

Arsenal are set to hand Manchester United a major transfer blow, as they are close to agreeing a deal with Barcelona for Thomas Vermaelen.

According to the Mirror, Arsene Wenger is not keen on selling the Arsenal captain to strengthen a direct Premier League title rival, making Barcelona the front-runner to capture Vermaelen's signature.

The Red Devils, have been linked to the Belgian defender all summer long and have reportedly also had their first bid rejected by the Gunners. Even though United are willing to up the offer, it looks like Wenger is ready to accept the Catalan side's £10m offer for the defender.

The 28-year-old defender has been relegated to the bench since Wenger decided on Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny as his first-choice centre-back pairing, and the arrival of Calum Chambers will see Vermaelen's position further threatened in the team.

The Belgian international is looking to move away from Barcelona, and Louis van Gaal is keen to take him to Old Trafford, as he is seeking experienced central defenders, for his new 3-5-2 formation.

The Gunners boss did want to retain the experienced defender, but he has admitted that the player could leave the club in search of regular first-team football.

Wenger has reassured fans that if Vermaelen does leave, he will look to bring in a replacement for the experienced defender.

Vermaelen is on the final year of his contract, and Wenger would rather sell the defender and re-coup some of his fees, than lose another defender for nothing next summer.

Barcelona boss Luis Enrique is said to be a keen admirer of Vermaelen's, and feels that the former Ajax defender will fit in nicely in his new look Barcelona team.