Manchester United have pulled out of the race to sign Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels because of the impressive form of Daley Blind, according to the Manchester Evening News.
The German centre-back has been a long-term target of Old Trafford executive Ed Woodward with interest reaching its peak in the 2014 summer transfer window. Louis van Gaal wanted a ball-playing centre-back and Hummels was already considered one of the best in the business.
However, Borussia Dortmund had already seen Robert Lewandowski leave for Bayern Munich and were determined not to lose another key player in the same transfer window. Equally, Hummels himself was not ready to leave a club still managed by Jurgen Klopp.
That stance continued they very next year with Hummels determined to guide Dortmund through the transition after Klopp's departure. However, the time for towering defender to leave the Westfallenstadion appears to have arrived and Manchester United were naturally expected to renew their interest.
But apparently Van Gaal no longer sees a need for the ball-playing centre-back he has craved for past two summers. That is because Blind, who was originally signed to play in midfield, has proved perfectly capable of filling that role.
Player of the year
The Holland international has been almost ever-present for the Red Devils this season, starting 51 of their 54 games. While he has played in a variety of positions in that time, he has come up against Romelu Lukaku and Sergio Aguero in recent weeks, thwarting both impressively.
Despite an obvious lack of height and seeming lack of strength, Blind's intelligence has proven to be all he needs to stop some of the Premier League's most talented attacking players. His performances have even seen him nominated for Manchester United' player of the season award alongside David de Gea, Anthony Martial and Chris Smalling.
But this news may have also been a clever bit of PR work. After all, few could suggest that Blind is as good as the World Cup winning Hummels. Perhaps, then, United had decided to make this claim simply because the defender had already rejected them.
Not even a day after the report was published, Borussia Dortmund confirmed that Hummels has requested to leave for their Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.
A statement read: "The player Mats Hummels informed Borussia Dortmund that he wishes to leave the club in order to join FC Bayern Munich with effect from the 2016/2017 season.
"Against this background the management of Borussia Dortmund has decided that the realization of such a transfer shall depend on the condition that Bayern Munich provides Borussia Dortmund with an extremely valuable offer which reflects the high importance of the player in soccer and other terms for Borussia Dortmund. At present no offer at all has been made by Bayern Munich yet.
"By a way of precaution Borussia Dortmund likes to emphasise that one has not agreed an "exit clause" with the player - also not with any other player of Borussia Dortmund at present - and the player is therefore bound by his employment contract with Borussia Dortmund until June 30, 2017 at latest."