Mats Hummels to Manchester United rumors persist. Can it happen in January?

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That Mats Hummels to Manchester United rumor just won’t go away, will it?

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On Thursday fresh reports linking Borussia Dortmund’s central defender with a switch to Old Trafford have emerged as Louis van Gaal is apparently eager to swoop for the German international.

If United were to try and sign Hummels, it is believed that would have to pay a Premier League record for a defender with a fee in excess of $50 million quoted.

Hummels, 26, is enduring a horror season in the Bundesliga with Dortmund as they are fourth from bottom with just three wins from 11 games so far and the powerful defender has suffered plenty of injuries. The German club rejected advances from United, Arsenal and Barcelona over the summer but may feel that January is a good time to cash in on their captain. Hummels will have two years left on his current deal at Dortmund at the end of this season and the Bundesliga giants will see this time period as crucial in deciphering whether or not to cash in on or commit to their star defender.

Speaking on a conference call to United’s investors earlier this week, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward had the following to say about new signings arriving in January.

“We are not looking to enter the market for short-term fixes,” Woodward said. “However, we have targets we are looking at for next summer. Should any of them become available in January, which is obviously rare, we will consider acting but it is a low probability.”

With injuries to center backs Marcos Rojo, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones so far this season, United have struggled defensively and are in desperate need of a talisman such as Hummels to build their backline around.

The Guardian reports that Hummels visited Old Trafford on his 18th birthday to watch a match against Wigan and is a long-term admirer of the famous English club. Emotional ties aside, this deal will come down to two things.

One, do Dortmund want to sell? Two, can United afford him? It seems like we will find out the answer to that question in January.