Manchester United chiefs have been ordered to make a deal for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels their top transfer priority by Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal, even if it means sidelining the continued pursuit of Roma playmaker Kevin Strootman.
Hummels slipped through United's grasp last month despite a concerted effort from United's transfer supremos to get the World Cup winner, but Van Gaal has refused to take no for an answer.
The Daily Star have today reported that Van Gaal still sees Hummels as the perfect man to marshal a defence lacking top-level experience, despite the fact he was only made Dortmund captain just over a month ago.
Would Dortmund sell Hummels in January?
Van Gaal may be desperate to take Hummels at the earliest possible opportunity, but the reality is that his exit from Dortmund may be far harder to facilitate than Mario Gotze or Robert Lewandowski.
The 25-year-old is a shining light for Dortmund, under contract until 2017 and above all very happy as the on-field general of Jurgen Klopp's popular Bundesliga project.
Dortmund are realistic about their position when it comes to selling top stars for the right price, but refused to entertain the prospect of swapping Hummels for Shinji Kagawa last month and are highly unlikely to consider a mid-season sale.
What about Strootman?
Van Gaal's insistence that Hummels must move to Old Trafford by any means neccessary leaves his long-term interest in Strootman waiting slightly in the wings, but he's still very much a player the veteran Dutch tactician knows and trusts.
United would infact be prepared to offer Stootman a reported wage packet of around £100k-a-week to leave Roma in January, but not at the expense of signing a man in Hummels who could well make all the difference and plug glaring defensive deficiencies in Van Gaal's squad in one fell swoop.