Vermaelen facing straight Barcelona or Manchester United choice

The Belgium international is determined to leave Arsenal in the summer transfer window and is now set to decide between the two European powerhouses.
Barcelona and Manchester United are locked in a two-way battle for Thomas Vermaelen with the Liga side having now lodged a bid for the Arsenal defender, sources tell Goal UK.

Louis van Gaal's United has been knocked back with previous enquiries about an 8 million-euro offer but is continuing to push hard to secure a deal as it attempts to bolster its defense following the departures of Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra.

Vermaelen has refused to sign a new deal at Arsenal and has told the club he will not agree to fresh terms.

The 28-year-old will leave the Gunners on a free transfer next summer, when his current contract with the north London club expires, if they force him to stay for the 2014-15 campaign.

Arsenal would be loathe to lose the Belgium international for nothing and is ready to sell, but understandably would rather the player moved to Catalunya rather than follow former teammate Robin van Persie to Old Trafford.

Barcelona has rekindled its interest in Vermaelen, but United boss Van Gaal has made it clear to club officials since day one that he wants Arsenal's club captain to bolster his defense.

Vermaelen now has a straight decision between two of the biggest clubs in the world, and he is expected to make his choice and inform his potential new employers later this week.

United remains confident it will land Vermaelen but Barcelona, which itself will be determined to improve in 2014-15 after a trophyless season, believes it can persuade the former Ajax man to switch to La Liga.

Barca already has spent €20m on Jeremy Mathieu in a bid to bolster a lightweight defense further damaged by the retirement of Carles Puyol, and Vermaelen would represent a useful further addition as head coach Luis Enrique plots a switch to a 3-2-3-2 formation.