Who is the better Manchester United target: Hummels or Benatia?

Mats Hummels Germany

United have been linked with two of Europe's best defenders in Hummels and Benatia, but who would be the better signing for Louis van Gaal's side?

Mats Hummels and Mehdi Benatia have both been linked with a move to Old Trafford as van Gaal looks to improve his options are the heart of the United back-line.

Hummels, 25, was one of the heroes of Germany's World Cup win, and is a central figure in Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund side. Speculation has continued to link United with a move for the German, but his club have repeatedly denied rumours that he could leave. The Benatia link is also currently just speculation; he was an influential figure in the Roma side last season, and they would loathe to lose the 27-year-old Moroccan. 

Hummels missed part of Dortmund's Bundesliga campaign last season through injury and only made 23 league appearances, so we are going to include his six World Cup matches to make his total more comparable to the 32 appearances Benatia made. The German defender scored four goals in total, which is just one behind the five Benatia scored, as he led Roma to a second place finish in the Seria A, just behind eventual champions Juventus. 

The pair share the exact same tackles per game scoring averaging in at a very decent 2.1 tackles each match. Although the statistics suggest Benatia is more willing to put his body on the line blocking 0.6 shots per game, compared to Hummels' 0.4.

With regard to interceptions per game the Moroccan comes out on top 2.8 interceptions per game, which is only slightly higher than Hummels' score of 2.4. Benatia also wins the clearances per game battle averaging 6.4 each game, compared to the Dortmund man's score of 5.6.

Now onto heading which is an incredibly important element of being a centre-half. Hummels does significantly better in this area, and smashing Benatia with 4.4 aerial duels won per game. This is nearly two more wins per game than Benatia who averaged 2.5 aerial victories.

The 25-year-old ex-Bayern Munich man is also a lot better in the tackle than Benatia, as he only commits 0.7 fouls per game, whereas Benatia makes more than double that figure with 1.8 fouls per game.

If reports are to be believed then United's manager is keen on a defender who can pass out of the back and is not afraid of having the ball at his feet, so the following passing stat could be quite important in the grand scheme of things. Last season Hummels averaged around 58.9 passes per game with 82.2% of those being successful ones. However Benatia comes out on top in this one averaging 48.7 passes per game and 88.6% of those were successful.

Overall Benatia appears to just edge out Hummels based on the statistics; his goalscoring threat and defensive attributes mean he could be an ideal replacement for the departed Nemanja Vidic. Hummels would still be a fantastic signing for United, he is two years younger than Benatia and has proven his quality on the biggest stage in the world. Both players would set van Gaal back a sizable sum, with reports suggesting both would likely cost a minimum of £30 million.

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