Barcelona looked to have taken pole position in the race to sign the 28-year-old Belgium international on Tuesday when they made a bid of £10million for the player.
However, Sky sources have revealed that United are Vermaelen’s preferred destination and the Old Trafford club will have no problem matching or beating Barca’s offer.
Vermaelen's future at Arsenal has been the subject of speculation all summer, with the centre-back entering the final year of his contract at the Emirates.
He is no longer first choice for the Gunners, with boss Arsene Wenger preferring the centre-back pairing of Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny last season.
Wenger also revealed last week he could not be certain Vermaelen would stay, as he could not guarantee the defender first-team football.
Vermaelen started just seven Premier League games last term and it seems the player is keen to move on, with United looking an ideal destination for him as new manager Louis van Gaal seeks to increase his defensive options.
@hincey (Arsenal)> I agree that Mascharano is a DM. Problem is Busquets has the DM position locked up at Barca. So unless Mascharano wants to warm the bench, he will push for continuing playing time as CB. While a player like say Hummels would have relegated Mascharano to the bench, with Vermaelen, given his previous form, it would not be a given. Anyways it seems Vermaelen is going to Barca, so we will find out if he is a starter or there to occupy the bench seat Alex Song will be vacating.- Synergy
Also while United haven't been cherry picking your players, Man Sheikhy surely have. Even this year they took Sagna from under Wengers noses.
@scottbloom123 (Arsenal)> My expectations are that united will finish in the top 3. Now that Moyes is gone, I can't see any reason why we won't be competing once again. I actually think the Arsenal captain is a talented defender and would have liked him joining United, while you believe the Arsenal captain is a useless player. The last Arsenal captain United signed worked out quite well for us.