Man United among teams to bid for Vermaelen

LONDON (AP) Manchester United is one of several teams to have made an offer for Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen as the Belgium international prepares to leave Emirates Stadium after five years.

Vermaelen has lost his place in Arsenal's team to Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, and manager Arsene Wenger won't stand in the center back's way if he decides to move on.

United is on the look-out for defenders after seeing Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra leave in the offseason.

"Are Man United one of the teams to have made an offer?" Wenger said of the interest in Vermaelen. "I think they could be in the group."

Wenger said he would prefer to sell Vermaelen, who was once Arsenal's captain, to a foreign club. British media have reported that Barcelona have lodged a bid.

"He needs to play now," Wenger said. "He has shown an outstanding attitude but he is in a position where we wouldn't stand in his way if he finds an interesting opportunity."

Vermaelen, who joined Arsenal from Ajax in July 2009, has had problems with his form and fitness over the past two seasons.

With just over a week to go before the start of the Premier League season, Arsenal's trio of World Cup winners Mesut Ozil, Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski are close to returning to training.

None of them, however, will be playing in the first game of the campaign, against Crystal Palace on Aug. 16.

"You either bring them back quickly and then you lose them in October," Wenger said, "or you give them the needed rest and build them up again."

England winger Theo Walcott, who missed the World Cup because of a knee injury, is expected to return by the start of September.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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