Van Gaal blow as Hummels insists 'I did not make deal to join United'
Manchester United have been dealt a public blow after the Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels insisted on Twitter that he has not promised to move to Old Trafford in the summer.
United are hoping to capitalise on Dortmund's dramatic decline in the Bundesliga this season and had been led to believe that Hummels (26) was keen to join them. That may still be the case, but the World Cup winner has bluntly denied he has already agreed to do so.
There had been suggestions that Hummels had promised Alex Ferguson he would play for United one day and that a deal was set to be agreed.
Hummels tweeted: "To clarify it: this supposed 'promise' is simply fictitious and that's the friendly formation."
The pursuit of Hummels is not as private as United would like, but they are still expected to bid for him in the summer.
Dortmund have fought to hold on to Hummels in the past, but they are no longer the team they were and their coveted centre-back could be tempted by a new challenge in the Premier League.
Widely regarded as one of the best centre-backs in the world, Hummels would significantly strengthen a defence that is not good enough at the moment for a club which will have title-winning aspirations in Louis van Gaal's second season as manager.
Given that their interest is well known, United will be wary of rival bids and Hummels' tweet will not fill them with confidence.
A failure to qualify for the Champions League next season could swiftly turn Hummels' head in a different direction and United must hope this is only a temporary denial.
There was more encouragement from Madrid, where Fabio Coentrao's public flirting with United bodes well.
The Portugal international wants to leave Real after four years because he is annoyed by manager Carlo Ancelotti's lack of "trust" in him.
"I have already shown an interest in playing there (Manchester United)," Coentrao said after scoring for Portugal in their 2-1 win against Serbia.
"It is one of the best clubs in the world, a club I admire a lot. It would be an honour to play there."
Whether Radamel Falcao will still be a United player in the summer is still not clear - the Colombian has not given up on making his loan move from Monaco a permanent.
United's interest in splashing out $43.5m to sign Falcao permanently has waned considerably but they have not made a final decision.
Falcao has scored four goals in 22 appearances and earns £250,000-a-week, wages United have covered while he has been on loan.
However, with Robin van Persie also badly out of form before he picked up an injury, United could yet decide to get rid of the Dutchman, who is two years older than Falcao.
The Colombian striker (29) is hopeful that he will remain a United player and pointed out that his three goals for Colombia were the ideal confidence boost, even if they did come against Bahrain and Kuwait.
Asked whether he expected to be back at Old Trafford next season, he replied: "I have faith about that and when the season finishes I am going to sit and think about my future and what is the best for my career." (© Daily Telegraph, London)