Mats Hummels
Germany's Mats Hummels smiles as he addresses a news conference.Reuters

Manchester United have reportedly been handed a big boost in their pursuit of Mats Hummels after Barcelona cooled their interest in the Borussia Dortmund defender, opting to look at other targets.

Hummels, who was impressive as Germany triumphed in the 2014 World Cup after beating Argentina in the final, has been tipped to leave Dortmund this summer, and United along with Barcelona were believed to be leading the race for his signature.

However, now, according to the Express, the Red Devils are reportedly in pole position to land the £20 million-rated Germany international after Barcelona pulled out of the race, opting to go after Valencia's versatile defender Jeremy Mathieu, who is capable of playing in the left-back as well as the centre-back position.

"Valencia already know our offer and we want to maintain privacy in the negotiations. Of course we have other alternatives if this falls through," said Barcelona Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta.

"Hopefully by La Liga's start we have that centre-back position covered. If we wanted a centre-back before now, we would have signed one. We want someone who can put in top performances for many years and that's what we're working on.

"Signing a centre-back is an objective for 80-90 percent of the major European clubs so it not only depends on what we want to do - the exception is David Luiz to Paris St-Germain, that's the only real major movement in this regard."

Meanwhile, new manager Louis van Gaal has finally taken over the reins at Manchester United following his arrival on Wednesday.

Despite being appointed in May, the 62-year-old could not immediately take over at Old Trafford due to his role as the coach of the Netherlands national team.

Now, after leading the Dutch side to a third-place finish at the World Cup, van Gaal is finally ready to take over from assistant manager Ryan Giggs, who had been deputising during his absence.

The former Bayern Munich boss, who was seen meeting players and staff in United's Carrington training complex, earlier stated he would be looking to instil the Netherlands' spirit in United as he looks to turn things around at Old Trafford next season.

"I hope the group in Manchester will become like this one," Van Gaal had said following Netherlands' victory over hosts Brazil in the third place play-off fixture in Brasília on Saturday. "We have to sing from the same hymn sheet."