Man United 'agree deal' for Arsenal skipper Vermaelen
Defender could be heading to Old Trafford as United's efforts to sign Luke Shaw hit a snag
It's not just England's hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages of the World Cup that hang in the balance today, so does the future of Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, who is said to be on the brink of a move to Manchester United.
The Daily Telegraph claims that the Belgian defender, who has been a Gunner for five years, has agreed "in principle" to quit the Emirates and follow in the footsteps of Robin van Persie to Old Trafford.
Vermaelen has the same agent as Van Persie, says the paper, and that has paid a key role in the deal. Another factor could well be money, as United are prepared to pay Vermaelen £100,000 a week, which is £30,000 more than he commands at the Emirates. Vermaelen has fallen down the pecking order at Arsenal but could establish himself as first choice centre back at Man United after the departures of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.
United may be closing in on Vermaelen, but the Sunday Times says their chances of landing Luke Shaw have taken a knock. The paper reports United's move for the Southampton and England defender has stalled despite the fact they are willing to give the Saints £27m for the teenager. But that is £3m shy of what the south coast club are demanding and as a result United "face another frustrating summer transfer window". It seems that Southampton are determined to play hardball over Shaw having lost Rickie Lambert to Liverpool earlier in the summer and United's failure to wrap up the deal prior to the World Cup means a bidding war could erupt in July.
United can at least take comfort from the fact it's nothing personal, as paper also claims that Southampton are resisting attempts by Liverpool to prise Adam Lallana from St Mary's.
Meanwhile the Daily Mail says United "have set their sights" on Arjen Robben and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Rumours linking Dutch ace Robben to Old Trafford are a bit like Wayne Rooney's consistently poor performances for England – never-ending – but the Mail claims this time new United boss Louis van Gaal has what it takes to seal the deal with his compatriot. As for Schweinsteiger, apparently Van Gaal sees him as a better alternative to German team mate Toni Kroos, rumoured earlier in the year to be on United's radar.
Over on the other side of Manchester, it's believed the Sky Blues are set to hand Joe Hart a new five-year deal when he returns from the World Cup. It wasn't so long ago that the 27-year-old England gloveman was tipped to be on his way out of the Etihad after falling out of favour with City boss Manuel Pellegrini, but The Sun says that Hart – who still has two years left on his current £70,000-a-week deal – will be offered a contract extension "which would tie him down until 2019".
Whether Hart accepts the offer remains to be seen because, according to the Sun, City aren't in a position to offer him much of wage increase after receiving a £49m fine from Uefa for breaching Financial Fair-Play regulations.
Back at Arsenal and the Daily Telegraph says that Costa Rica star Joel Campbell, the star of the win over Uruguay could finally don the red and white shirt next season. The striker joined the Gunners in 2011 but has spent the last three seasons away on loan at Lorient, Real Betis and Olympiakos. The paper says he will be assessed in pre-season and could be part of the squad next season.
Elsewhere and the Daily Express says that Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has played down the idea that midfielder Ramires could be on his way to Real Madrid. Recent reports have linked the Brazilian with a move to the Spanish capital in exchange for Sami Khedira, Raphael Varane or Luka Modric. The Express says that the Blues' capture of Cesc Fabregas last week increased speculation that Mourinho might agree to sell Ramires but that doesn't seem to be the case. "Ramires is staying at Chelsea. He's not for sale," Mourinho told Spanish rag Marca, adding: "I have an excellent friendship with important people within Real Madrid and they know that Ramires is going to stay at Chelsea."
Finally, Metro claims that Arsenal are "toying with the idea" of making a £5m move for Liverpool shotstopper Pepe Reina. The 31-year-old spent last season on-loan with Italian side Napoli and is scheduled to return to Anfield in July in time for next season, where he's expected to be behind Simon Mignolet in the pecking order. Reina would prefer to have regular game time and that could lead the Gunners to make Liverpool an offer following the departure of Lukasz Fabianski to Swansea.