Over the past week, Mats Hummels has had more rumors floating around him than Fleetwood Mac. The papers are talking. The coaches are talking. His dad is talking. But the one thing that keeps getting less and less clear is where Hummels will actually end up playing next year.
Hummels, on his best day, is easily one of the best centerbacks in the world. He has his moments of insanity (the "back pass" against Ingolstadt comes to mind, for example), but he is rightly coveted as a top defender, one that will almost undoubtedly succeed in any league he plays in. At 27, he'll be in his prime as a centerback for at least another four years (and possibly even longer), and he already has a World Cup Championship and two Bundesliga titles to his name. The world's biggest clubs will not be afraid to throw down serious money to sign him (or re-sign him, as it were). So the question remains: is there any truth among all the rumors?
First, there's what the man himself has said. While Hummels has been linked away from Dortmund for several seasons now, he and the club have repeatedly waived away such rumors in the past, noting that money is not everything. However, that tune has changed recently. Hummels admitted to "losing sleep" over all of the speculation and trying to figure out his future, which at the very least seems to indicate that he is willing to entertain the possibility of leaving Dortmund this summer.
Then there are the rumors perpetuated by the tabloids and newspapers, with Europe's elite well-represented in the hunt for Hummels. Many English teams seem to want him: an ailing and aging Chelsea back line, a Manchester United side bereft of a top center back to pair with Chris Smalling, a reunion with Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, and even Arsenal sniffing around him. Pep Guardiola is no doubt extremely familiar with his play and in need of a consistent defender at Manchester City with an ailing Vincent Kompany seemingly on the shelf around him. Barcelona have reportedly scouted him. And of course, he played his youth soccer at Bayern Munich before transferring to Dortmund.
And more rumors still, as his Father has spent the last week commenting at length about his future. Hermann Hummels has been telling the media that Mats's future is still up in the air, but all of the top clubs in Europe remain viable options, including Borussia Dortmund. The three clubs Hermann specifically mentioned as possible landing places for Hummels are Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Barcelona, while other aforementioned clubs and even Atletico Madrid remain in the mix.
So, which is it? With so many possibilities, it still seems extremely hard to tell where Hummels will go, but a couple possibilities can most likely be ruled out. Hummels is at a point in his career where he can maximize his earning potential, but at the same time has shown a propensity to value comfort in a system and long-term success over sheer volume of money in the past, staying on with Dortmund even after their brutal 14/15 campaign. With that in mind, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool can most likely be relegated to "outside contenders" for Hummels' service. All are great clubs with rich histories, but also have shown an inconsistency of results in recent years. Of those, Diego Simeone and Jurgen Klopp would of course be tempting coaches to work with, but if Hummels is to move leagues, I think he moves to a club with the best chance of competing for the most silverware.
That leaves Manchester City, Dortmund, and Bayern Munich as most likely favorites to land Hummels in the summer. The appeal to each is clear: Manchester City have money, clout, and perhaps most importantly, they have Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, Dortmund clearly holds a special place in Hummels' heart, and the resurgence they've shown in just one year (in addition to the rumors of some impressive additions to the squad for next season already gaining legs) under Thomas Tuchel will undoubtedly make the decision to leave not a foregone conclusion already. Which brings us to Bayern Munich, the top club in Germany and one of the most consistent European performers over the last few years. Can Manchester City convince him that they will finally assert themselves as England's best club under Pep? Can Bayern show him that they will continue to dominate Germany after Pep's departure? Or can Dortmund convince him to stay?
Then there's the most important question: if Hummels leaves Signal Iduna next season, do you blame him? Is he justified, or public enemy number one?