Football

Back three or four? He fits them all

Hummels can be used in any permutation

VAN GAAL'S DREAM DEFENCE?

Nathaniel Clyne. PHOTO: DARREN STAPLES

Mats Hummels. PHOTO: JASON CAIRNDUFF

Marcos Rojo. PHOTO: JASON CAIRNDUFF

Luke Shaw. PHOTO: LEE SMITH/ACTION IMAGES

Louis van Gaal's back three could make sense if he signs Mats Hummels.

Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw were his signings, clearly earmarked for pivotal roles in the future; a future that looks bleak for existing personnel.

If Hummels joins United, either in this transfer window or the next, LVG's infamous back three suddenly fits.

The German is predominately right-footed, but often plays on the left side of central defence.

Either way, his favoured foot raises the possibility of a back three of Shaw, Rojo and Hummels. It's the boldest, most attack-oriented back three, heavy on pace, but light 
on defensive cover.

Alternatively, Hummel's reliability could see him babysit one of the existing defenders alongside Rojo (freeing Shaw to play wingback, with perhaps Antonio Valencia on the other flank). Based on experience, the third man might be Phil Jones.

But honestly, if van Gaal really didn't trust the current lot, he could even go with the most radical back three of Daley Blind, Rojo and Hummels.

And, to throw a final spanner in the works, the United coach has often claimed he doesn't have the staff to pick the system he really wants.

He has played with a back four at his other clubs. So maybe, just maybe, this could be the United defence he really wants: Shaw, Rojo, Hummels and Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne.

Those fantastic four wouldn't just settle United's defensive debate. They'd be the best back four in the Premier League.