Arsenal are desperate to avoid selling Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United, with reports from the London Evening Standard suggesting that they will only do so as a last resort.

The Belgian centre-back looks likely to leave the Emirates Stadium in the coming weeks after rejecting a new contract offer.

Although still the club’s captain, Vermaelen is understood to be ready to exit on the back of making just seven starts in the Premier League last term thanks to the form of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny.

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United have been linked with an £11m swoop, but a potential deal has been stalling for some time.

This has drawn in rumoured interest from Barcelona, whom Arsene Wenger is much happier to do business with.

The Frenchman is reluctant to let his defender go to the Theatre of Dreams due to a fear of strengthening Louis van Gaal’s side ahead of a top four push.

The 28-year-old is reportedly open to the idea of joining United, and with less than 12 months on his contract Arsenal may relent to get a fee for his services.

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