Manchester United are reigniting their interest in defender Ezequiel Garay as they look to bolster their backline during the January transfer window, reports claim.
The Argentine centre-back was heavily linked with a move to the Red Devils during the summer before opting to trade Benfica for Russian giants Zenit Saint Petersburg.
To add salt to the wounds, the 28-year-old’s switch to Andre Villas-Boas’s team was for a reported bargain €15 million fee – almost half of what Liverpool paid for under-fire defender Dejan Lovren.
United have gone through a defensive injury crisis this season as summer departures Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra have yet to be replaced.
New boss Louis Van Gaal has had to call upon rookies Tyler Blackett and Patrick NcNair to fill in on occasions and the Mirror report that the Dutchman is eyeing reinforcements in the form of Garay.
“Louis van Gaal has identified Argentina hard man Ezequiel Garay as the player to fix Manchester United’s leaky defence. United sent two scouts to watch the Zenit St Petersburg centre-half play in the Champions League against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday with a view to making a January bid," states the report.
Garay has featured in 12 games for Zenit in all competitions this season, helping his side keep a total of eight clean sheets.
Described as quick, powerful, strong in the air and in possession of good ability to bring the ball out of defence, he has long been thought of as a capable defender for United.
Should Van Gaal wish to add him to his squad in January, he may well have to pay a premium as Garay’s stock has risen increasingly since his World Cup exploits and subsequent form in Russia.