According to reports all over the continent Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is ‘chasing’ Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay.
The Argentine was considered one of most promising talents of his generation during his three-year spell at Real Madrid where failed to stamp his authority on the first team challenging for his place in the centre of defence with the likes of Pepe, Raul Albiol, Christoph Metzelder and Sergio Ramos.
However, since his move to Benfica in 2011, he has hit his stride and is once again regarded as one of the best talents of his generation. Now a senior international with Argentina and first-choice centre back with the Portuguese giants, he is interesting Sir Alex Ferguson.
Ferguson currently has within his ranks some of the finest attacking talent in the world but his defence has been uncharacteristically vulnerable in the wake of a slew of injuries in the run up to the January window.
Since the return of captain Nemanja Vidic, the Scot may feel a little more at ease but with Rio Ferdinand turning 35 next year, he may be inclined to look to the future, especially as Ferdinand does have an injury history.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are certainly up-and-coming and Jonny Evans has been one of United’s most reliable players this season, however, there are still concerns that both of United’s first choice central defenders are unlikely to stay fit for a full season.
Garay is 26 years of age and is just entering the peak years of his career – he’s built up enough experience to really command in and around the penalty area, his tackling is superb, his tactical awareness is mature and his anticipation is sound.
He’s still young enough to have the pace to keep up with evening the fastest of Premier League attackers and at 6ft 4” he is a powerful aerial force in either box.
He cost Benfica just €5.5 million and has since developed into a player valued around £15 million. According to the Express, amongst numerous other publications, United have already offered £12 million to secure his services at Old Trafford.
However, his club, according to Spanish news outfit Marca, are looking for an offer double that. Whilst I think that would be a somewhat over-ambitious claim to make, I believe the two clubs could settle for under £20 million.
With Nani looking for a move away, I wonder whether United could use the Portuguese winger as bait in the transfer. Nani’s contract expires in the summer 2014 but I fully expect him to be sold before next season, especially with the imminent acquisition of Wilfried Zaha.
United could very well off Nani to Benfica and ensure they get Garay who, by all accounts, will be in high demand every transfer window until his contract expires in 2015. Benfica would be foolish not to take an opportunity to potentially quadruple their money on the player.
image: © jansolo09