Barcelona are set to fight Manchester United for Arsenal wantaway Thomas Vermaelen, reports in Spain claim.
The Catalan club are embarking on a huge overhaul this summer and even though they recently completed the signing of centre-back Jeremy Mathieu for £16m, they are still in the market for another defender.
Barcelona and United are in similar situations. While the Premier League giants have seen Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand leave, Blaugrana legend Carles Puyol has hung up his boots – while new manager Luis Enrique wants to restore Javier Mascherano to midfield.
According to recent reports, the Catalans were fighting with United for coveted midfielder Juan Cuadrado, and now Mundo Deportivo claims they are ready to compete with the Premier League giants for Vermaelen as well.
Paris Saint Germain star Marquinhos remains Barca's primary target but following unsuccessful negotiations with the Ligue 1 side they are now considering Vermaelen as an alternative.
Barcelona have also recently been linked with Jan Vertonghen, Daley Blind and even Mats Hummels but Mundo Deportivo believes Vermaelen is now their main alternative to Marquinhos as he is the most affordable choice.
According to the reports, the Spanish giants have already approached Vermaelen's agent and the player looks ready to leave the Emirates Stadium.
The Belgium international has fallen out of Arsene Wenger's favour in recent times and with his contract with the Gunners set to expire next summer it is undertood that Arsenal would also prefer to offload him now than lose him for free at the end of next season.
United are believed to have had a £6m bid rejected for Vermaelen earlier this summer as the north London club are demanding a higher fee or a player [believed to be Phil Jones or Chris Smalling] in exchange.
Nevertheless, Wenger recently suggested Vermaelen may leave the team this summer.
"I cannot guarantee that [he will stay at the club] but should he go, I will bring another centre back in for sure," Wenger told Arsenal's official website.