Thomas Vermaelen’s expected move to Manchester United is being held up due to Arsene Wenger wanting Chris Smalling included in part exchange for the Belgium defender.
Arsenal were interested in signing Smalling from Fulham before being beaten to his signature by United back in 2010. Wenger is still a fan of the player and is unwilling to lose Vermaelen for a straight transfer fee.
The Belgian defender found first team chances limited last season as he lost his place to Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, who formed an impressive partnership throughout the campaign which saw Arsenal in serious title contention before dropping off the pace and eventually finishing fourth.
He’s also lost his place in the Belgium national team and mainly featured as a subsitute during the World Cup, so a high profile move would more than likely interest the 28 year-old former Ajax centreback.
Smalling has also been mainly used as a bit part player since making the move to Old Trafford, having featured in 75 games over the last 4 campaigns, so a swap for both players could be in their best interests.
Manchester United are looking for defensive re-inforcements having released QPR target Rio Ferdinand, and losing Nemanja Vidic to Inter Milan.
Vermaelen is the player that they have identified to replace the outgoing due, so it will be up to Van Gaal as to whether he’s willing to part with Smalling if it means landing one of his top centreback targets.
By including Smalling, it would mean that the transfer free wouldn’t be as high which would leave extra funds for targets elsewhere, and with Rafael and Phil Jones capable of covering the rightback position, it could be a move that United are willing to make.