By Jonathan Dicks@Jonathan_Dicks

How Mats Hummels has become a must-start for Borussia Dortmund

After too many poor defensive outings last season, it became clear that Dortmund (and many fans) believed that Mats Hummels was nearing the end of his time at the club. But, his impressive start to the season has changed everything.
Coming off one of the worst years of his career, 33-year-old Mats Hummels knew he had a mountain to climb in order to keep his place in Dortmund's starting eleven. In a move that signaled his decline, BVB signed two quality center-backs in the summer, as Hummels even admitted he wouldn't give himself a contract extension:

"I've told (Dortmund Sporting Director) Sebastian Kehl that if I put myself in BVB's place, I would not extend with me right now."

But, after Niklas Süle's early injury to start the season, Hummels has stepped in and hasn't given the new center-back many chances to shine due to his consistent play. With Hummels on the pitch, BVB have conceded just one goal (against Freiburg) in the 512 Bundesliga minutes he's played, compared to six goals in the 188 minutes he hasn’t. Now that, is an impressive statistic.

His importance to the team was never more clear then when than he was subbed off for Süle in the 62nd minute against Werder Bremen on Matchday 3, who's catastrophic substitute appearance earned Werder a shocking extra-time comeback win. Rumors have also continued to swirl ever since that BVB are concerned with Süle's weight.

On the other hand, Hummels recently credited a change in eating habits this summer as a major reason for his improved play. At this point, Edin Terzic has no other choice but to start Hummels, who has surprisingly become left-footed Nico Schlotterbeck's best partner in center defense.

If Hummels can continue this play, he'll force Dortmund into giving him a contract extension and a call-up from Hansi Flick for a place at the World Cup.

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