Manchester United have been linked with a lot of players since David Moyes took over from Sir Alex Ferguson. And while midfielders have obviously taken the majority of headlines given the club's struggles in that area, it is also clear they need to strengthen defensively next summer.
With Rio Ferdinand almost certain to leave and Nemanja Vidic reportedly set for a move to Italy – with Inter Milan the latest club to be linked – United cannot rely solely on Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
As good as all three players are, they alone cannot form the effective defensive unit the club will need to challenge both domestically and in Europe.
Eliaquim Mangala, Nicolas Otamendi and Ezequiel Garay have all been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent times. But what of the man many feel would be the ideal player for United – if only they could get him – Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels?
The German international was reportedly on United’s radar back in October, with Barcelona also believed to be hot on the heels of a player with a reported price-tag of £29.5million.
But whether or not Jurgen Klopp sanctions the move of yet another of his top players – given the recent departure of Mario Gotze and the soon-to-follow Robert Lewandowski – Hummels is unlikely to be thinking about the future at the moment.
The defender tore ligaments in his foot while playing for his country against England in November and has been side-lined ever since.
With that setback behind him, Hummels was ready to return to first-team action, only to receive a knock to the same foot in a friendly match on Tuesday morning – a blow that will now reportedly see him out for another fortnight.
It is a minor setback compared to his previous injury, and small niggles are often the after-effects of bigger blows, but Hummels will be hoping to get a run of games under his belt as soon as possible, for fear of being talked of in the same breath as an injury curse.
And then, provided his problems are well and truly behind him, the summer should see him star for his country, before potentially heading to United or Barcelona. Fully fit, he would be an outstanding addition to either.
image: © Dirk_Vorderstraße