Manchester United should pay £29.5m to sign Hummels
Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels would be a sensational capture for David Moyes' men
By their usual impeccable standards, Manchester United have experienced - to put it mildly - an entirely underwhelming beginning to the 2013/14 domestic campaign.
While they are proving traditionally efficient in the Champions League, the Red Devils are struggling badly in the Premier League under the management of new boss David Moyes.
After he succeeded the truly iconic and revered figure of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson during the summer, former Everton manager Moyes has seemingly failed to assert his authority at Old Trafford.
With United sitting in a lowly and wholly unfamiliar eighth place in the top-flight table, they are already eight points adrift of leaders Arsenal in the title race and as a result Moyes has already faced widespread criticism from among the club's own supporters.
In addition, the 50-year-old's abject failure to secure a number of reputable and high-profile targets during the summer transfer window has led to genuine and credible questions being asked of his suitability to such an important role.
Such factors surely make it an absolute certainty that United - in order to radically improve Moyes' own standing as well as making sure they are not left adrift of their immediate rivals - will look to become major players once again when the market re-opens for business in January.
Although many will undoubtedly suggest - probably correctly - that is in midfield that United need to prioritise, there is one player that has persistently linked with a move to the Premier League champions in recent weeks that I believe would be of immense benefit to the club - Mats Hummels.
The German star is a truly formidable presence for current employers Borussia Dortmund and he's an absolutely pivotal reason as to why Jurgen Klopp's admired outfit continue to fearlessly challenge the might of rivals Bayern Munich.
With strength and aerial ability that is matched by a rare elegance and admirable composure in possession, the cultured centre-back - who reportedly has a release clause of £29.5 million in his current contract - would instantly command status as the Premier League's very best defender if he were to make the move to these shores.
While United have lacked fluency going forward with worrying frequency so far this season, they have also been plagued on occasion by uncertainty and injury woes in a defensive capacity and Hummels would undoubtedly help to remedy that problem and could form an impressive partnership with the evergreen Rio Ferdinand.
At just 24, Hummels remains some years from his peak and his potential would appear to be limitless.
However, Moyes will have to move quick to secure this particular target. Despite the player insisting that reports claiming he was on the verge of joining the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar at the Camp Nou were false, Barcelona are believed to be in the market for a new centre-back and Hummels would appear to fit the bill perfectly.
If United have any hopes whatsoever of successfully defending their title and ensuring that their reputation does not suffer any more damage, then they will obviously need to dramatically strengthen during the winter.
While the issue of a lack of creativity appears to be the one most in need of addressing, they also need more numbers to provide serious and credible competition in the backline.
At £29.5 million, Hummels is just too good an opportunity to miss.