Thomas Vermaelen
Thomas Vermaelen Reuters

Manchester United are considering a shock move to sign Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen this summer, according to the Daily Mail.

During the 2013/14 season, injuries at the start of the season saw the 28-year-old being replaced by Per Mertesacker and Lauren Koscielny in the heart of the Gunners's defence by the their manager Arsene Wenger.

Mertesacker and Koscielny's brilliant partnership forced Vermaelen to sit on the bench for the most part of the last campaign. The Belgium international made only seven starts in the league and lack of playing time has frustrated the centre-back.

Incoming United manager Louis van Gaal knows Vermaelen during his time at Ajax. The Arsenal skipper's contract at the Emirates runs out in 2015 and has not signed a new deal to extend his stay at North London.

The report claims the Red Devils's former manager David Moyes was keen on signing him, only to later change his mind. United are looking to strengthen their central defending position after losing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has set his sights on Vermaelen and Van Gaal wants United to sign the Belgium centre-half. He has already featured in the Premier League and his experience could be vital for the Old Trafford club, if he decides to make a switch to the Gunners's league rivals.

The defender's agent Alex Kroes had earlier revealed Vermaelen was attracting interest from Napoli, which has stepped forward to sign him this summer. The Gunners's centre-back is currently with the Belgium national side for the World Cup in Brazil.

His representative claims any potential transfer of Vermaelen will be discussed after the completion of the summer tournament.

"Yes Napoli have been on the player and have stepped forward, but other clubs have also shown their interest and not just Italian clubs," Kroes told Calciomercato

"At the moment we are not thinking about it. There's a World Cup to be played and we will postpone any discussions until afterwards," Vermaelen's agent concluded.

United's former manager Sir Alex Ferguson signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal in 2012. Should Vermaelen decide to join Van Gaal at Old Trafford next season, he will be the second player to leave the Emirates and join the Red Devils in the past few years.