Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has made Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels his top transfer target, with executive vice-president Ed Woodward now hopeful that the Red Devils can pull off a stunning January transfer coup.
Woodward is well aware that in order to sign Hummels he'll have to break the British transfer record fee for a defender, which currently stands at £32million.
Manchester City were the team that shelled out that staggering sum for French international Eliaquim Mangala, but The Guardian believe that if United get their way that record will be smashed in 2015 to bring Hummels to Old Trafford.
Dortmund expecting January offer
United are hoping that an sizeable early offer for Hummes when the transfer window opens will prevent a protracted summer bidding war, with Dortmund fully expecting to be flooded with offers for their captain over the next six months.
Van Gaal had actually given up on any hope of signing Hummels in January and was prepared to wait until next summer rather than sign a short-term fix at centre-back, but Woodward disagrees and believes a blockbuster deal is very much on the cards, sooner rather than later.
Arsenal interest could still scupper deal
Hummels will have just two years left on his contract with Dortmund by the time the current campaign concludes, which means the Bundesliga giants may well be forced to cash in on their defensive linchpin in order to prevent him leaving on the cheap in 2016.
Despite the World Cup winner being hampered by injuries and a dip in form so far this season both Arsenal and United see Hummels as the man to ease their defensive woes, after very poor starts to the season in that respect.
Dortmund will not even consider selling a key player in the middle of the season unless the fee is something approaching an astronomical £47m though, particularly following a shocking start to the Bundesliga season which has seen Jurgen Klopp's side lose seven of their first 11 games.
United believe they have the upper hand
The Red Devils believe they can beat Arsenal, Barcelona and any other top European club to sign Hummels, primarily because of the pulling power Van Gaal has brought to the club.
Hummels will have a strong understanding of how Van Gaal works as a coach too, thanks to his father Hermann, who worked as a youth team coach at Bayern Munich during the experienced tactician's time in Germany.
United are also hoping a visit to Old Trafford on Hummels' 18th birthday made enough of an impression on the imposing defender to make sure he wants to play in the Premier League while at the very peak of his powers.
Woodward & Van Gaal are now both working on the terms of the deal they believe will finally land Hummels as the long-term successor to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at centre-back, but one thing is for sure the deal won't come cheap.