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United prepare to outbid Barcelona for defender - reports

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According to the papers, Ed Woodward is ready to blow the Catalans out of the water. Metaphorically.

Mike Hewitt

Hot Thomas Vermaelen news! Well, "news". Gossip. Reports. We're off to the warm, comforting surroundings of the Daily Mail -- don't complain, you know you love it -- where we learn that Manchester United are prepared to walk up to Arsenal, ask what Barcelona have offered for their surplus square-jawed Belgian, and offer more.

Bang! Kapow! Have some of that, Barcelona! Though apparently United's free and easy way with the moneys is not just because Mister Woodward wants to wow everybody with the size of his chequebook. No, it's because Arsene "Nominative Determinism" Wenger is chary at the notion of selling another captain to United, after he was burned by Robin van Persie's decision to leave despite having been given a piece of cloth and responsibility for handshaking. That, and he doesn't want to strengthen a rival.

But money talks, and £15m talks very loudly indeed, considering it's for a player who only started seven league games last season. Louis Van Gaal's wish to add a bit of experience and bit of footballing to his backline is understandable, and Vermaelen, for all that he has a nasty tendency to leave wide-open spaces behind him, fits both of those bills. And of course, the best thing about playing three at the back, is that there's three of them. One extra to do the clearing up.

File under: probably sensible but not very exciting and arguably slightly overpriced but also fairly necessary and, ultimately, quite likely. Do we have a category for that?