Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has accepted that he will not be able to sign Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels until January 2016 at the earliest.
According to the Telegraph, Van Gaal has been informed that Dortmund have no intention of selling Hummels in either of the next two transfer windows.
This means that United will need to wait until the second half of the 2015/16 campaign before they stand any realistic chance of signing the Germany international, who lifted the World Cup earlier this summer.
Van Gaal snaps up £30m defensive duo
United were strongly linked with Hummels during the summer transfer window. Van Gaal was keen to sign the 25-year-old to bolster his fragile defence, but Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp made it clear that the central defender was going nowhere, and even handed the player the captain’s armband at Signal Iduna Park in a bid to convince him to stay put.
Van Gaal subsequently went and splashed out £16 million on Argentina international Marcos Rojo, who will replace youngster Tyler Blackett as the left-sided centre-back in Manchester United’s 3-4-1-2 formation after the international break, and £14 million on versatile Dutch defender Daley Blind.
Both players have strengthened United’s defensive options, while Van Gaal also has Phil Jones, Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling at his disposal.
Jones - good; Evans - bad
The veteran Dutch coach will have been particularly encouraged by the early-season form of Jones, who has been arguably United’s best player so far this term.
Evans, however, has been among United’s poorest performers so far this season and could find himself replaced after the international break.
As for Smalling, Van Gaal rejected the chance to sell him to Arsenal, who were hoping to sign the England international in a part-exchange deal involving Thomas Vermaelen.
Arsenal eventually sold Vermaelen to Barcelona and reportedly considered the idea of using the £15 million generated by the Belgium international’s sale on Hummels.
A move failed to materialise, however, with Wenger happy to give £16 million summer signing Calum Chambers a chance to shine in Arsenal’s first-team instead.
Hummels' asking price
Either Manchester United or Arsenal would have been required to pay out a fee in the region of £30 million to sign Hummels this summer - although after Paris Saint-Germain paid Chelsea an astronomical £50 million fee to sign Brazilian defender David Luiz, it’s likely - and reasonable - that Dortmund would have expected an even higher price for one of their prized assets.
Whether Hummels’ asking price will increase over the course of the next 16 months will depend on his form and how successful Borussia Dortmund are in both the Bundesliga and Champions League between now and then.
The solid centre-back will have turned 27 by January 2016 - but it’s unclear whether Dortmund would consider a slightly reduced fee for their talismanic skipper.