Manchester United look set to miss out on the signing of Borussia Dortmund defender and German international defender Mats Hummels.
Elegant centre-back Hummels has reportedly been identified by new Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal as the ideal man to re-build the club's defence, but, according to reports in the German media cited by The Daily Express, Dortmund are adamant that the 25-year-old will not be leaving Signal Iduna Park in the near future.
Such a stance is likely to come as a huge disappointment to expectant Manchester United supporters, particularly with claims from earlier this week appearing to hint that the club felt they were closest to completing a deal for £30 million-rated Hummels.
With the hugely experienced and admired duo of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic exiting Old Trafford this summer, it is quite clear that Van Gaal will need to address Manchester United's defensive problems as a matter of urgency.
While a number of accomplished centre-backs have been linked with the club in recent weeks, Hummels - who is set to start for Joachim Low's Germany side at this summer's World Cup showpiece in Brazil - was believed to be the chief target.
A truly world-class defender who is dominant in the air but also more than competent in possession, the former Bayern Munich man would have been a real statement from Van Gaal and his signing would surely have represented the jewel in the crown of the experienced Dutchman's very first transfer window in English football.
Just who Manchester United will look to target to bolster their backline now that Hummels looks to be staying put remains to be seen.
While Van Gaal will have the likes of Jonny Evans and England international duo Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at his disposal next season, it seems incredibly unlikely that he will be content to move forward without the addition of at least one new proven defender.
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