Manchester United have been linked with three Benfica players.
Manchester United have been linked with an audacious triple swoop on Benfica by The Express, for a central midfielder, a winger, and a centre-back.
The names are nothing new, Nemanja Matic, Ezequiel Garay, and Nicolas Gaitan.
Central midfielder Nemanja Matic has a €50 million release clause, and was a former youth team player at Chelsea, sold as part of the David Luiz deal in 2011. United were first linked with him in the Spring, with Liverpool the most recent side to be suggested as being after the Serbian international. He has been an ever-present for Benfica this season.
United were closely linked with signing Ezequiel Garay in the summer, so much so that the defender was even said to have gone house-hunting in Manchester. The Argentine said an agreed deal was scuppered by incoming manager David Moyes, who wanted the season to assess his existing centre-back options. He has a €20 million release clause, to which former club Real Madrid would be entitled half as per his transfer agreement which took him to Benfica..
Nicolas Gaitan is the player United have had the longest standing interest in, dating back to 2011. The Argentine was this week linked with Tottenham and admitted via his agent that he could be heading for an exit sooner rather than later. This is despite an likely extortionate buyout clause in his contract of €38 million. He has eight appearances this season with no goals and just one assist.
What to make of it all?
Looking at the Express' article, their argument for the 'triple swoop' is very flimsy.
They claim United have been alerted to Tottenham's interest for Gaitan, and could move for the two other players they hold an interest in at the same time, almost as a matter of convenience.
There is no doubt all three players would strengthen United, but it could be argued only Ezequiel Garay represents true value for money.
It appears to us as though The Express, while they may have some current information on Gaitan, are simply using United's previous connections to Garay and Matic to make a more exciting story.
In fact they almost tie themselves in knots, referencing previous links, and foreign reports, without any real hard evidence of current interest.
Gaitan himself is out of form at present, and with all the talk over his future, if Spurs were to make a run at him, the Red Devils might just be advised to let them go for it and focus on the other two instead, for let's face it - United have not ever spent significant amounts of money in January, and even though league position may dictate they need to in 2014, we do not envisage it happening on this kind of scale.
What do you make of the report? Of you could sign one, who would it be?
image: © Crystian Cruz