Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen has opted to join Barcelona and and has snubbed interest from Manchester United, Goal understands.
The Belgium international, who hasn’t figured in any of Arsenal’s pre-season matches due to injury, has been unable to oust either Laurent Koscielny or Per Mertesacker in Wenger’s side since he lost his regular first team spot over 18 months ago.
As revealed by Goal Vermaelen faced a straight choice between Manchester United and Barcelona and privately indicated in the last 24 hours that he would prefer to join the Catalan giants.
United, who are in need of defensive reinforcements following the departures of club stalwarts Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, have now admitted defeat in the race to sign a player whose Arsenal career has been plagued by a number of injury setbacks.
Wenger confirmed on Thursday that Manchester United were among a group of clubs who had registered an interest in the former Ajax defender but the Arsenal manager insisted he would rather sell the 28-year-old abroad rather than aid one of his potential title rivals.
Asked directly whether United had made an offer, Wenger said: “I think they could be in a group.
"We have offers from abroad and ideally I would rather sell him to a club abroad. We're in a position where it's difficult to stand in his way."
Barcelona are keen to bolster their back-line ahead of their bid to reclaim the La Liga title from Atletico Madrid and have identified Vermaelen - who made 21 appearances for the north Londoners last season - as a target ahead of the new season.