According to various sources in the Portuguese press, Manchester United had scouts present for Benfica’s clash with Porto this weekend to watch Benfica’s Argentinian pair Ezequiel Garay and Nicholas Gaitan.
24-year-old Gaitan has been of interest to United ever since his impressive performances against them in the UEFA Champions League and this year he has been good form for his club side, scoring twice in eight appearances this season.
Gaitan’s agent last week opened the door to a possible move away from the Portuguese club. Speaking to A Bola, Jose Iribarren said: “If there is a proposal, we can sit down and analyse it.
“I know there are many clubs who want Gaitan but we have not received a concrete proposal”
“If a good opportunity arises for everyone then great. But again, he is happy at Benfica.”
Manchester United’s scouting has been widely reported recently suggesting that, even though we are sitting atop the Premier League, we aren’t resting on our laurels and are always looking to improve the squad.
Gaitan, who is left footed but normally operates on the right, has been a revelation for Benfica since a move from Boca Juniors, where he was equally as successful. The Argentine scored 12 in 66 for Boca, a very impressive statistic for a wide player.
During his debut season in Europe, Gaitan claimed the Breakthrough Player of the Year award after notching nine goals and nine assists in his maiden season for Benfica.
Gaitan’s international and club teammate Ezequiel Garay, is another said to be interesting United.
The 26-year-old centre back has been linked with United for some time and has been watched by United on a number of occasions.
Links began in mid-December with Neil Custis of the Sun reporting that Garay was watched by scouts during Benfica’s 3-1 victory over Sporting Lisbon and also watched him in a subsequent game against Olhanense.
Garay has been in impressive form since leaving Real Madrid two seasons ago, and could be available for £15 million.
Injuries to United’s defence are now almost a weekly occurrence and Nemanja Vidic reportedly left Old Trafford on crutches following the Liverpool game. Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand has just six months left on his current deal meaning a reliable replacement may be sourced.
The Argentine international certainly fits the bill. At 26, Garay has a lot of experience of European football while still having plenty of years left at the top-level.