The Gunners captain looks set to switch to Old Trafford in the coming weeks after falling down the pecking order in north London, with rumours suggesting that an £11m deal has been all but secured for some time.
However, it is now understood that Arsene Wenger is backtracking in a bid to get Smalling thrown into the mix.
The Frenchman is a big fan of the England international, and sees him as a wise addition with the losses of Bacary Sagna and, potentially, Vermaelen.
The former Fulham youngster is able to play at centre-back or full-back, which is the sort of versatility the Emirates Stadium chief believes will boost his side’s hopes for the season.
United may indeed sanction the deal with their need for a new central defender well known following the exits of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
Louis van Gaal may also switch to a 3-5-2 formation using wing-backs, which might mot favour Smalling’s skill set.