Manchester United have started to look at central defensive options beyond Mats Hummels as they are not confident of landing the Borussia Dortmund man, according to ESPN FC sources at Old Trafford.
United have trailed Hummels for some time but his current boss Jurgen Klopp dismissed the possibility of a move this week, while Dortmund's reluctance to allow another key player to leave is also said to be one of a number of reasons why any transfer currently looks unlikely.
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"I can assure everyone there are no indicates Mats or Marco [Reus] want to leave," Klopp said. "They will be playing for us in the new season. What is the latest rumour -- Mats to Manchester United? And for how much -- 20 million euros? For an amount like that you can forget about it straight away."
While United have not yet completely ruled out the signing, manager Louis van Gaal has already been investigating alternative targets, and is unwilling to allow any hesitation in the market to scupper his plans for the season.
The new Old Trafford boss is determined to sign a high-quality central defender to anchor his tactical approach, and also wishes to bring in a wing-back and a wide player who can operate further forward, with Angel Di Maria's name mentioned as an option for the latter.
United are still looking at central midfielders, too, and there remains some interest in Juventus' Arturo Vidal.
The Chile international, however, appeared to pour cold water on rumours of a move to Old Trafford when speaking at Turin airport on Thursday.