The German international has been strongly linked with United for quite some time, and those links only increased as Louis van Gaal failed to address the issues at the heart of his defence this summer.
Since then, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Tyler Blackett have all been struck down by injury, suspension or in some cases both, while youngster Paddy McNair has stepped from the shadows to stake a claim for a regular first-team place.
But following the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, United’s defence has lacked that experienced leader they are in desperate need of.
In Jones they have potential, in McNair and Blackett possible stars of the future, and in Rojo a man still getting used to his new surroundings but never really the answer to their issues at centre-back; which all makes a £47million move for Hummels not so much a risk as a necessity.
Of course that is a considerable outlay, and it could be argued there are defenders out there who could do a similar job but cost considerably less. But just as United broke the British transfer record for Angel Di Maria, so they should spend big at the opposite end of the pitch.
A world-class defender is every bit as important to van Gaal’s side as a world-class marksman or quality creator, so why only patch over the problem rather than make the headline-generating changes that would see United challenging both domestically and in Europe once more?
At 25 Hummels is the perfect age – old enough to have accumulated vital experience but young enough to be deemed a long-term investment.
It is no doubt a crazy amount of money, but that is football these days, and when you consider Manchester City paid £32million for Eliaquim Mangala and Paris Saint-Germain paid a reported £50million for David Luiz, suddenly Hummels’ alleged price-tag makes far more sense.