Arsenal legend Charlie Nicholas believes Arsene Wenger has been determined not to sell Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United after what happened with Robin van Persie.
Joining from Ajax in 2009, Vermaelen proved an integral part of the Arsenal lineup during his first four campaigns at the club but was restricted to just 14 league appearances last season, as Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker consistently partnered each other at centre-back.
His departure from the Emirates believed to be imminent, Wenger had revealed this week that Manchester United were one of a number of clubs who had made a bid for the Belgian international, but added that he would prefer to sell his captain abroad.
A potential deal now said to have collapsed over the Frenchman’s desire to have Chris Smalling included in part-exchange, Nicholas however believes the wrangling goes back to when United poached his former skipper Robin van Persie in 2012, with their still some lingering resentment apparent.
‘We all know this transfer window can get a bit cat and mouse and I think everybody’s got their own way of dealing with it,’ he told Sky Sports New Radio.
‘Yeah, he’s probably upset Manchester United a little bit but you’ve got to remember that Arsene Wenger has already lost van Persie, his captain, to them simply because they doubled his salary.
‘I think Wenger’s quoted today in fact saying that Arsenal can now afford to keep those types of players so maybe there’s a little bit of agitation.
‘But if van Gaal really wants Thomas Vermaelen added to his club then Manchester United will come back in and make a bid, but my preference for Arsenal would be to move him abroad.’
Nicholas may well get his wish, with Barcelona reportedly moving closer to a £15 million deal for the 28-year-old, after the club’s transfer negotiator, Raul Sanllehi, flew into London on Wednesday in an attempt to speed up negotiations.
Is Wenger smart to keep Vermaelen away from Manchester United?