Belgium slipped down the pecking order with the Gunners last season.
Continental heavyweights Manchester United and FC Barcelona are both reportedly keen to sign Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen this summer, says the Daily Mirror.
Whilst Barcelona’s interest would be understandable given their lack of options at centre back, and propensity to look to Arsenal as their first port of call when reinforcements are required, Manchester United’s is less understandable.
New boss David Moyes is able to call upon Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in central defence, and quite when Vermaelen would play remains unclear – given that he can’t get a game for the Gunners at present.
The Belgium international has endured a tough season at the Emirates, despite starting the campaign as the north London club’s skipper following the controversial sale of front man Robin van Persie to arch-rivals Manchester United last summer.
However, due to both a loss of form and a succession of niggling injuries, the defender was axed by Gunners head coach Arsene Wenger in March after the club had lost 2-1 at city-rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
And after that, Vermaelen spent the rest of the season warming the substitutes’ bench as Wenger went with Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker as his first-choice centre-back partnership.
Vermaelen, 27, has a contract with Arsenal until 2015, but could be available for as little as £5 million when the transfer window opens next month.