Chelsea had been tentatively linked with Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels in recent weeks, but as we had assumed all along, it's highly unlikely he ends up going anywhere other than Bayern Munich. Got another one for the BVB-to-Bayern pipeline!
Here's non-small-minded BVB chief Hans-Joachim Watzke holding open the door for the eight-year club veteran to leave...
"To forbid Hummels to leave would be small-minded. We have to accept that someone playing for Dortmund for eight years and getting [close to] 28 starts to think about his situation."
"If the club isn't ready to pay a lot of money, he has a contract in Dortmund. And I am sure that he has no problem with continuing playing for Dortmund."
-Hans-Joachim Watzke, BVB CEO; source: Evening Standard
...and return to his childhood club, who are no doubt able to pay a lot of money.
"I can confirm what Mr Watzke said: that Mats has spoken with Bayern. The matter is between the three parties involved, and I ask for your understanding that I will go now, and not elaborate any further."
-Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern chairman; source: Evening Standard
So just like with Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski, Bayern will once again sweep up the best talent in the land from their closest title rivals. It's just how it goes in the Bundesliga. But this could provide an opportunity for Chelsea, who are also looking for defensive reinforcements.
"I've got a three-year contract, but if Bayern Munich want me to leave, no problem. If they want to stay, I'll stay, the club knows I'm a real professional."
-Mehdi Benatia; source: kicker via Star
Those quotes are from last week and the likes of the Star, Metro, et al. were quick to throw Chelsea's name into the ring. That seemed far-fetched at the time, but if Hummels is indeed going to Bayern, Benatia could very easily be surplus to requirements.
The 29-year-old center back moved to Bayern back in 2014 for €26m (when Chelsea had made an offer, too), but has largely failed to establish himself as first-choice center back. He has had a few injuries, in fairness, but other than the time Guardiola opted to play a back three, Benatia's opportunities have been limited. He does have three years left on his contract, so it's not like Bayern have to sell, but Chelsea could possibly find a bit of a bargain here.
Benatia was very highly regarded at Roma and he's of a decent age to provide a short-term solution as we wait for the likes of Christensen to come of age and for Zouma to re-establish himself post-injury.