Manchester United are once again in the driving seat with regards to the capture of Mats Hummels this summer, as Barcelona have turned their attentions to Valencia’s Jeremy Mathieu.
The Daily Express reports how the Catalan giants are no longer in the hunt for Hummels are Luis Enrique looks to find a long-term replacement for Carles Puyol, allaying fears that they might muscle in and beat Louis van Gaal to one of his top targets of the summer. Yesterday it was reported that Barca were considering a move for the £20million-rated German international, though it now seems they’ve cooled their interest, leaving United alone in the race for his signature.
The Red Devils have been after Hummels since it became abundantly clear that Nemanja Vidic would no longer be at the club next season. David Moyes was repeatedly credited with showing an interest in the 25-year-old, and it seems as though his successor has picked up the mantle as though it were never set down.
Of course the exit of Rio Ferdinand, whose future was somewhat hazy heading into the latter stages of last term, has heightened the need for an experienced head in the back-line, and the trio of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans aren’t expected to be trusted to keep things steady on their own.
As such Van Gaal has singled out Hummels as his ideal new defensive leader, and it’s believed that the 62-year-old will do his best to lure the Borussia Dortmund star to England before the start of next season.
There’s no questioning that Hummels is in line to play a key role in Dortmund’s campaign next term. The loss of Robert Lewandowski, only a year after Mario Gotze jumped ship for Bayern Munich, will have cut deep, and Jurgen Klopp is all too aware that he needs to retain the services of his best players if he is to stand a chance of continuing the club’s successes of recent seasons.
With that in mind the German manager is sure to quickly rebuff any United proposals which aren’t bordering on the ridiculous, and one has to question whether the mooted £20million fee would truly be enough.
The one ray of sunshine in the race for Hummels is that United don’t have to face Barcelona, whose interest in Mathieu appears to have garnered the lion’s share of their financial initiative. The Spanish giants would have been tough competition for the centre-back as they can promise Champions League football and Van Gaal will certainly be thankful that at the moment United are the club in the running.