After suffering yet more heartache in Europe, Ezequiel Garay may now be prepared to consider a move to Manuel Pellegrini’s team.
After 120 minutes of football at the Juventus Stadium it happened again: Benfica failed to claim a European trophy for the eighth consecutive time since former manager Bela Guttmann put a 100-year curse on the club.
And following a season in which O Glorioso have already picked up a Primeira Liga and Taca da Liga double, with an appearance in the Taca de Portugal to come, there is a sense that some within the squad could use the summer to seek out a fresh challenge away from the club.
One man likely to lead the exodus is Ezequiel Garay, the former Real Madrid defender who has built a reputation as arguably one of the finest players in the Portuguese top-flight.
Now 27, Garay is attracting plenty of attention from some of Europe’s top leagues and while Manchester United are thought to be long-time admirers of the Argentine’s talents, it’s their cross-town rivals and newly-crowned Premier League champions Manchester City who lead the way.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team may have won the title in some style but, were it not for a few notable defensive lapses, it could have been far easier for the Blues.
Last time the Citizens won the Premier League, manager Roberto Mancini made the mistake of failing to adequately strengthen his squad over the summer in a move that saw them surrender the title meekly, with the Italian exiting soon after.
A repeat this time around is unlikely, however, with Pellegrini already talking up the idea of establishing City as the major force in English football.
That process could start with a move for Garay – a player Manchester City were linked with back in January, following an injury to Vincent Kompany.
The absence of the Belgian, coupled with Matija Nastasic’s long-term layoff, saw the Sky Blues struggling to plug the gaps at the back.
And with Joleon Lescott and Micah Richards likely to leave the Etihad this summer, there is a real need to bring in top-level recruits.
Garay may be under contract at Benfica until 2016, but with City keen to recruit the best talent from across the continent, the international defender will undoubtedly top any transfer shopping list.