Manchester United have reportedly declined Arsenal’s £12m bid for 25-year-old defender Chris Smalling.

Arsenal are in the market for defensive reinforcements, with Per Mertesacker likely to leave the club but will have to turn their attentions to other targets.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has been confident of bringing the England defender to the Emirates this summer but United manager Louis van Gaal sees Smalling as a vital part of his team and a permanent replacement for departed Nemanja Vidic in the centre back role.

Latest report by Manchester Evening news however suggests Van Gaal is not ready to let Smalling leave Old Trafford.

Smalling has formed a formidable defensive partner with Phil Jones in United’s back four since Jonny Evans got suspended for spitting at Newcastle’s Papiss Cisse, with Marcos Rojo recovering from a hamstring problem.

United have the third best defence in the Premier League, only Chelsea and Southampton have conceded fewer goals.

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