Sources: Man United to push again for Mats Hummels, Aymeric Laporte
Manchester United will make one last big push to sign either Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund or Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Bilbao over the last few days of the window, club sources have told ESPN FC.
The Old Trafford hierarchy had taken the decision to pursue only "top priority" targets and wait until the summer if they could not be bought now, but both Hummels an Laporte fall into that category, and United want to at least test the resolve of their clubs given their own ongoing issues in defence.
While the likelihood is that neither will move in January, sources say the Premier League club have had a little more encouragement over the past two weeks with both targets.
Borussia Dortmund still want to keep Hummels but are privately less intransigent about the idea of a sale than they had been, and those close to the club in Germany think the ground is being prepared to make any eventual exit easier to cover. United put an informal bid in for Hummels as far back as November, sources said, and as yet have not received a flat-out rejection.
Old Trafford officials will attempt to force the situation this weekend, but it is still seen as unlikely that Dortmund will allow the 26-year-old to leave in the middle of such a difficult season.
United are also aware that Laporte wants to join them, but are right now reluctant to actually meet his buy-out clause. As has become somewhat typical of Old Trafford negotiations, there is some hope that the player's willingness to move may allow leeway as regards the price, but Athletic are one club who have been totally unmoving on this in the past.
The most obvious examples were Javi Martinez's move to Bayern Munich in 2012 and United's own initial attempts to sign Ander Herrera in the summer window of 2013. As was also the case with Herrera, however, United feel that any negotiations now could pave the way for summer transfers, even if Laporte or Hummels do not come.
Sources also state that the club have been looking at Aleksandar Dragovic of Dynamo Kyiv, who has been the subject of much speculation, but that has not yet moved beyond scouting the Austrian 23-year-old.