Manchester United have reportedly made contact with Mats Hummels' representatives ahead of a potential offer for the Borussia Dortmund star.
The story comes from Adrian Kajumba and Chris McKenna of the Daily Star, who believe United "want to know if Germany star Hummels, 25, is keen before following up their interest with an offer." It is also stated such a tentative approach is being taken due to the Red Devils being "scarred" by David Moyes' transfer failings during the previous summer.
Nick Sutton of BBC Radio 4 tweeted the newspaper's backpage headline:
Speculation is fuelled by Hummels' inability to completely rule out a move from Dortmund. The powerful centre-back, who is currently starring with Germany at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, previously suggested maybe "some day" he would consider leaving the Westfalenstadion. Even so, he admits this is "something that isn't important for me right now," per Mark Ogden of the Telegraph.
There's no secret United need defensive reinforcements after seeing the legendary partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand move on during the same summer. Louis van Gaal has already strengthened by adding Luke Shaw to the lineup, but he needs dominant centre-backs as United look to qualify for Champions League football once more. Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling just won't cut it across a season.
Hummels has always seemed committed to Dortmund's cause, even when star players such as Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski head for the exit.
In fact, the defender previously admitted there is "something special" about BVB when alluding toward Gotze's exit. Hummels also admitted he "doesn't waste any thoughts" on leaving, per Bild and via Stephan Uersfeld of ESPN FC.
Raphael Honigstein of the Guardian adds to the suggestion a move appears unlikely:
Should Hummels make himself available for transfer, United are likely to face competition from Barcelona for his signature, reported by Anthony Chapman of the Express. The Catalan club need to replace the outgoing Carles Puyol this summer and may also be tempted into moving for the defender whose leadership skills continue to develop.
Despite reported interest, both United and Barca face an uphill struggle to land their man. Jurgen Klopp won't want to lose a player he recently outlined as "extraordinary," per Harry West of Goal.com. After saying goodbye to Lewandowski this summer, he will also be keen to maintain as many high-profile stars as possible.
United must be aggressive if any attempt to sign Hummels is to come to fruition. Van Gaal has likely outlined a number of defensive targets, but if United could land the German behemoth, there's no doubt the footballing world would take notice.