Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has decided not to pursue a £31.3 million January deal for Mats Hummels, because he thinks Borussia Dortmund's valuation of the World Cup winner makes the deal too expensive.
Wenger will instead focus all his efforts on trying to sign French centre-back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, a transfer target he views as far more attainable in a position that Arsenal clearly need to strengthen as an urgent priority.
That means the path is clear for Manchester United to chase down Louis van Gaal's dream defensive signing, with Red Devils chiefs ready to give their veteran coach the funds to strengthen yet again in 2015.
Wenger is still under fire for transfer failure
Gunners fans will likely not react kindly to Metro's report that Hummels is no longer their top transfer priority, with under-fire manager Arsene Wenger still struggling to replace former club captain Thomas Vermaelen.
Wenger sold Vermaelen to Barcelona in August and neglected to sign a direct replacement in the summer, an oversight that's cost Arsenal dear thanks to a string of injury problems in central defence.
Laporte now the priority
Arsenal are huge admirers of Hummels but remain unconvinced that Dortmund would sell in the middle of the campaign, which means United are effectively the only club likely to pay the premium fee the Bundesliga giants would demand to part with yet another key player.
Wenger instead thinks Bilbao will let Laporte make the move to a top European club if they receive an acceptable offer in January, despite the 20-year-old's current contract containing a £34m release clause.
Arsenal & Man United continue to chase a new centre-back
Unsurprisingly given their own defensive deficiencies United are also tracking the promising starlet, who has shown composure beyond his years in La Liga over the last 18 months.
Bilbao are reluctant sellers but if pushed are prepared to cash in on the promising defender, with Arsenal now clear favourites to win the race for his signature.
Both Wenger and Red Devils chief Louis van Gaal are both primed to make important additions when the window finally reopens, but its a proven commodity in Hummels that both sets of anxious supporters want rather than the promising Laporte.
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