Hummels or Pique: Has the Spaniard emerged at LvG's top defensive target?

Manchester United Old Trafford

Gerard Pique is linked with a sensational return to Manchester United in January, but how does he compare to summer target Mats Hummels?

Despite appearing for the La Liga outfit 269 times, winning four league title, two Copa del Reys and two Champions Leagues in the process, Gerard Pique has failed to make an impression under new Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.

Reports originating in Spain have surfaced that the Barcelona defender could be on the move in January, with his former club Manchester United leading the race for his signature.

The loss of of experienced heads Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at Old Trafford has certainly had a greater impact than first expected, and after a very slow start to the season, Red Devils manager Louis Van Gaal will be looking to reinforce his current side. 

Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels emerged high on United's list of targets during the summer window. The World Cup-winning central defender had been linked with a £25m transfer to United as Van Gaal made attempts to rebuild his side's weak back-line.

The German international, a cornerstone of Dortmund’s success under Klopp since arriving from Bayern Munich in 2008, had attracted widespread interest following his starring role in his nation's triumph in Brazil.

  TeamTackle Won / AppAerial Won / AppAerial Succ (%)Intercept / AppClear / App Block / AppPass Succ (%)AppsMins
Mats Hummels Borussia Dortmund  1.57 4.74 69.87 2.48 5.87 0.26 81 23 1958
Gerard Pique FC Barcelona 1.54 3.69 68.57 1.96 5.85 0.50 90 26 2309

The addition of either Pique or Hummels would represent a significant upgrade to the players currently at Louis Van Gaal's disposal, this is not up for debate. The real question is, who would be better suited to the Red Devils current needs?

Based on the statistics, Hummels should remain the Premier League outfit's priority target. Last term, the German international averaged a greater number of successful tackles and aerial duels per match, while also registering more interceptions and clearances. 

In fact, Pique emerges on top in very few categories. The Spaniard is the significantly superior in terms of his passing, which comes as little surprise considering the system he plays under at the Nou Camp, but is inferior in almost every other sector. 

Louis Van Gaal needs a player capable of taking charge at the back and based on the evidence, Mats Hummels is the ideal candidate. The recently-crowned World Cup champion has all the credentials to succeed in the higher echelons of English football, and at just 25 years of age, his best days as a footballer are yet to come. 

Register for MANCHESTER UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch