Mats Hummels, Borussia Dortmund
The one Louis van Gaal really wants. It was never clear if a bid actually materialised during the summer months but it was saga that rumbled on for some time without ever really catching light. It does seem that enquires were made, judging by Jurgen Klopp feeling the need to publicly refute the idea his captain might leave. In fact, he looked aghast it was even being suggested. What is clear is that Van Gaal and United remain very keen on the towering 25-year-old, and they will move again with the slightest hint of encouragement.
There has been a general decline in the standard of defenders across the globe in the last few years, leaving the elite standing out more than ever before. Hummels has moved into the top bracket over the last few seasons, his name and reputation becoming increasingly prominent since an excellent performance in Euro 2012.
Now in possession of 38 caps for his country, he possesses a breadth of skills that few peers can match: amongst the usual skill-set, he has a versatility to this play that is rare. His anticipation and reading of the game are his hallmarks, but he also boasts a strong ability to man-mark, and he’s powerful and committed both in the air and on the ground.
Moreover, he’s not only comfortable on the ball; he has the ability to move forward and dictate the play. His confidence and ambition is possession are outstanding, effectively operating as a deep-lying playmaker if required.
What are the chances of signing him?
Slim. With the credentials he boasts, he wouldn’t be short of suitors across Europe but Klopp seems determined to hang on to his captain anyway, and after seeing several high-profile players leave in the last few seasons (with Reus likely to follow next summer), Dortmund will be determined to hang on their prized asset.
Hummels, who is contracted until 2017, has never expressed a desire to leave, although if Dortmund’s woes continue (they’re currently fourth from bottom of the Bundesliga) then it’s possible that might change. Any fee will be in excess of £30m.