Manchester United have received a significant boost in the race to sign German star Mats Hummels, with the defender seemingly having dismissed reports suggesting that he is close to joining La Liga champions Barcelona.
24-year-old Hummels, who joined current club Borussia Dortmund from Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich on a permanent basis in early 2009 following a successful loan switch, has been a formidable figure for Die Schwarzgelben and has forged a reputation as one of European football's best centre-backs.
Such impressive form for Jurgen Klopp's widely-admired outfit has led to increasingly intense speculation with regards to Hummels' future, with the Germany international - who has won 26 senior caps - having been linked with moves to European heavyweights Barca and United.
Indeed, some reports even seemed to claim that Hummels - who reportedly has a release clause of £29.5m - had been given permission to speak to the Catalan giants. The player himself, however, has been very quick to refute those claims.
"There is no truth in these stories," Hummels was quoted by Sky Deutschland.
"Of course, every now and then there are bits of reports. That's the same about other players too. Today, I read about [Ilkay] Gundogan and Thomas Muller going to Barcelona. He went to the city of Barcelona to have dinner. This just happens, and then you are getting linked to a move.
"Then, there are some people claiming they are in touch with Barcelona. And they tell the media about it. We did experience that back in April. Three days later, this was written in a newspaper.
"Borussia Dortmund did not know anything, we did not know anything. It's just a story because someone started to care about the rumour," he added.
Hummels received a yellow card for a cynical foul on in-form French striker Olivier Giroud on Tuesday evening as a late Robert Lewandowski strike secured a hard-fought 2-1 win for Klopp's men over Arsenal in their hotly-anticipated Champions League encounter at the Emirates Stadium.