Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has cooled his interest in Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels, amid reports that the veteran Dutch coach wants to sign Ajax defender Daley Blind instead.
This latest update comes courtesy of the Manchester Evening News, who understand that Van Gaal’s priority is securing the services of a left-footed defender for his 3-5-2 formation.
Hummels down Van Gaal’s list of options
The same report adds that, although he is a fan of £30 million-rated Germany international Hummels, Van Gaal prefers the £17 million-rated Blind, who can play at centre-back, left-back and defensive midfield.
The 24-year-old’s versatility has made him an attractive option for both Manchester United, who have tracked the Dutchman in recent months, and Catalan giants Barcelona.
However, Barcelona are on the verge of signing Van Gaal’s first-choice defensive target Thomas Vermaelen, who will seal a £15 million move from Arsenal to the Camp Nou this weekend.
Van Gaal missed out on the left-footed Belgium international because he was not prepared to sell England international Chris Smalling to the Gunners.
Blind: More obtainable than Hummels
Had Hummels topped Van Gaal’s list of defensive targets, the United boss would have faced the near impossible task of prizing him away from manager Jurgen Klopp, who is determined to keep his best players at Signal Iduna Park following the departure of star striker Robert Lewandowski to rivals Bayern Munich.
But Van Gaal should have less trouble in his attempts to sign Blind, who he knows well from his time managing the Dutch national team.
The current Dutch Footballer of the Year is currently training on his own at Ajax - and the club’s youth coach Ricard Witschge has revealed that, in his opinion, Blind will leave the Amsterdam Arena before the transfer window closes on September 2.
“I think Daley Blind will be leaving soon. I have a feeling,” he told reporters. “He has been training by himself. I think he has done that because there’s something going on.”
Watch: Daley Blind in action
Blind the better fit for United
Hummels is widely considered one of the world’s best central defenders following his performances for Dortmund and Germany over the past few years - while his reputation was further enhanced thanks to his impressive displays at the recent World Cup finals - but Blind appears to be a better fit for what United currently need.
The Dutchman knows Van Gaal, his methods, and can play in multiple positions. United need a back-up defensive midfielder as well as cover for left wing-back Luke Shaw - so, by signing Blind, United would solve three problems rather than one.
Doubts also persist over Hummels’ pace. There are no such concerns, however, with Blind.
Man United fans: who would you prefer: Blind or Hummels? Tell us why in the comments section below.