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The Red Devils boss is in shock after the Belgium international opted to move to Camp Nou rather than Old Trafford

VAN GAAL GUTTED AS VERMAELEN PURSUIT FAILS

Manchester United have been left reeling after their 'name your price' offer to Arsenal for Thomas Vermaelen ultimately ended in failure.

The Belgium international decided in favour of a switch to Barcelona, which was officially confirmed on Saturday, as the Premier League outfit lost out in a head-to-head battle for the centre-back.

The Insider understands that the Red Devils' unwillingness to match Barca's five-year contract offer played a part, but ultimately it was the player's preference for the Catalan giants that proved crucial.  

And the decision has left a sour taste in the mouth of Van Gaal, who had made Vermaelen his primary target when he first walked through the door at Old Trafford.

The Dutch coach sanctioned a 'money no object' offer to Arsenal and hoped the defender's English ties - he has an English girlfriend, for example - would swing Vermaelen's decision towards Old Trafford.

But it's now back to the drawing board in terms of defensive recruits for United.

Expect, then, further links with the likes of Mehdi Benatia and Daley Blind, as Van Gaal keenly looks to strengthen his back-line options.

 

- By William Joyce

SPURS DEFENSIVE DUO WANT TO STAY PUT

Tottenham have been looking to make changes to their defensive personnel this summer - but centre-backs Michael Dawson and Younes Kaboul are both insisting they want to stay and fight for their places.

Spurs have signed Eric Dier from Sporting and are closing in on a deal to sign Villarreal defender Mateo Musacchio as a first choice partner for Jan Vertonghen in the heart of the back four.

But club captain Dawson has so far spurned the chance to join Hull in a deal worth around €10 million, citing his desire to earn his place in the Tottenham side.

While Dawson could still be convinced to leave, Kaboul has absolutely no intention of leaving Spurs this summer.

The Frenchman is in the final year of his contract and will run down his deal before making a decision on his future, with his preference to secure a new deal at White Hart Lane.

Kaboul has suffered with a knee problem for the last two years but is now pain-free and has impressed Mauricio Pochettino during pre-season.

Lazio have been linked with a move for the Frenchman but sources close to the player insist he will reject any proposed transfer.

 
- By Greg Stobart


FIRMINO KEEN ON PREMIER LEAGUE SWITCH

Roberto Firmino has become one of the stars of the Bundesliga with Hoffenheim, but the Brazilian is now eyeing a move to the Premier League.

The Insider can reveal that the 22-year-old forward has hired a representative in England with the intention of helping to negotiate a move to a leading Premier League club.

Firmino, who scored 22 goals in 37 matches for Hoffenheim last season, believes his style of play is ideally suited to English football but expects he will have to wait another year for a transfer.

He recently signed a contract keeping him at Hoffenheim until 2017 and the German club want around €24 million for their star player.

Arsenal and Liverpool have been strongly linked with Firmino in the past.

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