Manchester United scouts have expressed their concern to the club that long-term target Mats Hummels may be too slow to cope with the team's high line.
According to The Daily Mail, Hummels remains a top target for Manchester United. After losing both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand in the summer at least one established centre-back should be on his way to Old Trafford.
Hummels has been top of the list for a while and nothing changed when Louis van Gaal took the reins following the dismissal of David Moyes. Van Gaal is well aware of Hummels' ability having spent several seasons battling Dortmund as manager of Bayern Munich.
Lack of pace
With Manchester United at the front of a major rebuilding process and with plenty of money to spend it seemed that this summer may finally see the 25-year-old become a Red Devil. However, there appears to be a niggling doubt in his ability to succeed at Old Trafford.
Hummels has suffered numerous injuries throughout his career and has struggled with a troublesome ankle for large parts of the last 12 months. Having watched Hummels throughout this period, Manchester United scouts believe the player may have lost a yard of pace.
With Hummels slowing down because of his injury troubles, it leaves Manchester United coaches fearing that he would not be able to cope with the team's typically high line. It is still unsure whether or not Van Gaal will implement such a high line, but the attacking tradition of Manchester United dictates that it most probably will.
Van Gaal had originally played a high line with Holland, but reverted to a more defensive style once it became apparent Kevin Strootman would not be available. There has since been talk that Manchester United would revert to an unorthodox 3-4-3 next season. Such a style would accommodate Hummels, but it would also mean a world-class deep lying midfielder in the form of Arturo Vidal would have to be acquired.
With plenty of other options on the market, Manchester United may be forced to abandon their pursuit of Hummels. Dortmund are rumoured to be wanting around £20 million for their star player, but there are cheaper players out there.
One genuine alternative to Hummels is Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen, who is rumoured to be seeking a move away from north London. The Belgium international is in the last year of his contract with the Gunners and looks some distance away from a renewal. However, due to the rivalry between the clubs, Arsene Wenger is demanding as much as £12 million for the player.
Vermaelen has plenty of pace and also has the versatility to play at left-back, making him a potentially valuable squad member. Whether Van Gaal will pay the premium or not remains a mystery.