With the Premier League season hurtling towards its conclusion, the summer transfer window is slowly working its way into the consciousness of football fans up and down the country.
There is still much to play for of course, with the Premier League title, Champions League places and relegation to the Championship still undecided, but managers – providing they’re not about to be sacked – will have already identified the main areas of weakness within their squads.
One story set to run and run – as it did last year – is whether or not Mats Hummels will be swapping life in the Bundesliga for life in the Premiership.
Hummels is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in world football, so if he does become available, there is likely to be a large queue for his signature. The 26 year old only has one year remaining on his contract, and it’s doubtful that Dortmund would be keen to let him leave for free in 2016. If a new contract isn’t in the pipeline, then it looks increasingly likely that Hummels will leave Borussia Dortmund this summer.
The revelation earlier this week that Jurgen Klopp is to step down as Dortmund manager at the end of the season has only added fuel to the fire, with many predicting that Dortmund may now be ‘raided’ by other clubs for their best assets.
Hummels is one of these assets, but where would he go if he were to leave the Westfalenstadion?
Manchester United fans are hoping that quotes attributed to Hummels – in which the German international allegedly said that he would only swap Dortmund for United – are true. Others remain sceptical of course, and a lot could yet hinge on Hummels’ current manager, Jürgen Klopp.
It is widely believed that Manuel Pellegrini will be replaced as manager of Manchester City in the coming weeks, and Klopp has stated that he won’t be taking any time off. He has also claimed that there are currently no offers on the table, though this must surely be taken with a pinch of salt.
Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez, Pep Guardiola and Patrick Vieira have all been touted as successors to Pellegrini, though Klopp’s resignation has forced his name into the metaphorical sky blue hat.
If Klopp were to take over at the Etihad, then Hummels, along with Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan, may also be tempted to join him.
Various bookies currently have odds of 1/2, however, that Hummels will join up with Louis Van Gaal at Old Trafford, and it may be that a deal with Manchester United is already at an advanced stage.
Hummels is 6/4 to stay at Borussia Dortmund, and 8/1 to join Man City, though expect this to change if City appoint Klopp as their new manager.
Both Manchester clubs are likely to be in the market for a centre-half, but Elaquim Mangala has proven that paying through the nose for a defender doesn’t guarantee instant success. On the other hand, Mangala isn’t a World Cup winner. Louis Van Gaal revealed recently that United are already actively scouting players, and a centre-half is almost certainly a priority.
We shouldn’t of course rule out the possibility of Chelsea making a bid for Hummels. John Terry has been in good form this season, but is nearing the end of an impressive career. Mourinho is also an admirer of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, so it remains to be seen which defender Chelsea will actively pursue.
And there’s always the ‘big two’ in Spain to consider. Barcelona are yet to replace Carles Puyol sufficiently, with Thomas Vermaelen crippled by injury, and Madrid are always in the market for the world’s best, regardless of whether they need them or not.
The rhetorical question remains; would Hummels be a success in the Premier League?
Hummels has started in 18 of Dortmund’s 28 Bundesliga fixtures so far this season, as questions have been raised about his fitness. In this time, he has averaged 60 passes per match, at a pass completion rate of 78.2%. On average, only around 5 of these passes in each match were long balls, highlighting his nature as a ‘ball-playing’ defender.
Naturally, he is defensively sound and averages 2.2 tackles, and 2.3 interceptions each game. Hummels also makes over 4 clearances each match.
The main weaknesses in his game are his speed – he is dribbled past on at least one occasion per match – and at times, his positioning. Both Hummels and defensive partner Neven Subotic suffered against the pace of the Juventus counter-attack, as Dortmund bowed out of this season’s Champions League.
He is assured with the ball at his feet however, and is only dispossessed on average once every three matches.
Hummels has proven himself at the highest level, and has captained Dortmund against Europe’s elite. His leadership qualities are impressive, and he has an exceptional relationship with Jürgen Klopp. Hummels has also stated that Champions League football isn’t a necessity for him, though the draw of Europe’s biggest competition may be too much to resist.
Will we see Hummels playing in the Premier League next season?
Only time will tell, but is looking more and more likely that Hummels won’t be at Borussia Dortmund when the 2015/16 campaign gets underway.