Club/Nation: Borussia Dortmund/Germany
Aged just 23, Mats Hummels has become one of the most highly regarded centre-backs in Europe. Sir Alex Ferguson, a known admirer, was rumoured to have been keen to recruit the young German to the United defence. The Scot may be disappointed by the news on Sunday that Hummels has extended his contract at Dortmund to June 2017.
Hummels started out in the Bayern Munich youth system, but managed only one senior appearance before being loaned in January 2008 out to Borussia Dortmund. There he started to form a fledgling but promising partnership with Neven Subotic to the extent that in February 2009, Dortmund lodged an offer for the youngster. Bayern, perhaps to their chagrin now, accepted and have had to watch as their former player has helped Dortmund to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in the last two seasons. Bayern’s pain at this may have been compounded by their 5-2 mauling at the hands of Die Schwarzgelben in the 2012 DFB-Pokal Final.
Hummels may just have the lot in terms of all round ability and is perhaps reminiscent of a young Alessandro Nesta. Allied to a proficiency in the air and tackle, Hummels has a good turn of pace. This pace coupled with adeptness at reading the game has meant a high ratio of clearances and blocked shots. In 33 appearances in the Bundesliga 2011/12 season, Hummels won 109 tackles (with only one yellow card against him), 61/93 aerial duels and made 81 interceptions, 170 clearances and blocked 23 shots. However, what may set him apart from other centre-backs is his ability to play the ball out of defence. Comfortable on the ball, and in the short and long pass, Hummels completed 1485/1914 passes last season, including 226/368 long balls, 20 key passes and two assists. His aerial ability also makes him a threat in the opposition penalty area, Hummels contributing 11 league goals for Dortmund.
Hummels made his debut for Germany on May 13, 2010 in a friendly international against Malta, coming on for Sander Tasci, who he now appears to have usurped in the defensive pecking order.
The young German has benefitted from his understanding with Subotic at club level, which obviously may be difficult to reproduce on the international stage, with different partners. Hummels, though, would appear to have the quality to be a mainstay of the German defence for years to come. Joachim L