Manchester United could make Borussia Dortmund and Germany World Cup defender Mats Hummels the first signing once Louis van Gaal is formally announced at the new manager. Dutchman van Gaal is expected to be confirmed as David Moyes’ replacement once the Netherlands play Ecuador in a friendly early next week.
Hummels has been a long-term target for United with the Red Devils missing out on his signature on a couple of occasions – once under Sir Alex Ferguson and more recently under the now departed Moyes. United face a race against time to shore up a back line that has seen Nemanja Vidić and Rio Ferdinand call time on their careers at the club. Frenchman Patrice Evra is also linked with an exit.
It was thought that United would face a major fight with Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp if they wanted to land the player. Klopp, who has already distanced himself from the United job, is keen to take the fight to champions Bayern Munich, who have made a habit of signing their closest rivals’ best players of late. Poland striker Robert Lewandowski is the latest to jettison and head to Bavaraia to play under former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.
Hummels has been a key figure for Dortmund over the last couple of years. The season before the one just gone, he was instrumental in helping his side reach the all-German Champions League final against Bayern. Van Gaal is said to be a fan of the player and is understood to make the German his first signing before the World Cup in Brazil kicks off next month.
Hummels will go to the tournament on the back of another decent season for club and country and any would-be suitors look will be keen to sign him up before a solid World Cup enhances his reputation – not to mention his value – even further.
United have also been linked with Hummel’s teammate Marco Reus, but the player has reiterated his desire to remain at Dortmund. Whoever takes on the United job knows they have a massive rebuilding task at hand. Not only did United finish way off a Champions League spot, finishing in seventh means they cannot offer new signings European soccer for the first time since 1990. United won the now defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1991 by beating Barcelona in the final. The Old Trafford side had not failed to make a European competition from then until this month.
If United do make the German their first signing under the leadership of van Gaal, it will provide a major boost for a club with less to offer next season that Dortmund. However, working under a manager like van Gaal who has had success at Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern will prove very tempting for a number of top players who will face arguably the most critical rebuilding period in the history of the world’s most famous club.
World Cup Preview is a series providing commentary and analysis of the teams and players participating in this year’s World Cup in Brazil.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd