Manchester United have been linked with a surprise move for Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen. A mainstay of the Gunners side since his move from Ajax in 2009, the Belgian central defender has found himself out of favor in the closing weeks of the season. It is now being reported by various sources that Arsenal are prepared to listen to offers for the player this summer.

And the Daily Mirror claims that the possibility of Vermaelen’s availability has piqued the interest of those at Old Trafford. What’s more, it is said that Arsenal would have little reluctance in selling the 27-year-old to their rivals, unlike the case with Robin van Persie last summer. Barcelona are also thought to have a long-standing interest.

Vermaelen, who has started just once for Arsenal since his poor showing in defeat to Tottenham at the beginning of March, could be allowed to leave for as little as £5 million, according to the Sun. Such a move appears some way off at this stage, however. For one, Arsene Wenger has repeatedly insisted that Vermaelen has a future at the Emirates. There is also the question of how much more first-team action the player would see if he joined United. Rio Ferdinand has just signed a new contract with the club, while Vermaelen would also have to compete against club captain Nemanja Vidic as well as Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.

It could be that incoming Manchester United manager David Moyes is looking to strengthen his central-defensive options, though, with the club also linked with a move for Inter Milan’s Andrea Ranocchia. The 25-year-old has endured a challenging season as his club finished outside the European places in Serie A. Yet, the Italy international is interesting United, with an official offer even possible in the coming days, according to Italian publication Tuttosport.

The British press has also picked up on reports in Spain that United could be set to move for Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara. The 22-year-old can leave for €18 million (£15.4m) this summer, due to a clause in his contract activated following the player’s failure to make a requisite number of appearances for the Spanish champions this season. With Paul Scholes retiring and doubts about the future of Anderson and Darren Fletcher, Moyes could be seeking a new central midfielder.

The Sun believes that Thiago will be available. “He’s not happy because of his lack of playing time and wants to go to a club where he’ll get regular first-team football,” the Sun quotes a Barcelona insider as saying. “Boss Tito Vilanova is not a big fan and has marginalized Thiago this season, preferring to play Cesc Fabregas or Alex Song ahead of him. That frustrates Thiago because he knows he is good enough to probably get into any other team in the world.”

It has also been reported that Moyes is keen to bring young Southampton left-back Luke Shaw to Old Trafford. The 17-year-old has enjoyed an impressive first season in the Premier League and is thought to be interesting many of England’s top clubs. The Daily Mail reports that Moyes had previously looked to bring the England youth international to Everton and could now reignite that interest. 

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