On a day where David Moyes and Jimmy Lumsden were in Italy watching Juventus take on Cagliari and Phil Neville was in Spain watching Rayo Vallecano against Getafe, Manchester United scouts were also present for Benfica’s top of the table clash against FC Porto.
Moyes has reiterated on more than one occasion that United would be active in January if the right players were available and there were five players in action today who Moyes would have been keeping an eye on.
Nemanja Matic – He had a fantastic game against Porto and dominated the midfield. From United’s perspective, he would be a brilliant signing.
This week, his agent confirmed he wanted a move to the Premier League which gave United pursuit of him a boost but there were widespread reports from O Jogo today that he will be confirmed as a Chelsea player this week. However, O Jogo also insisted he refused to play in the game to force a transfer which was false, so there is a question mark about the credibility of their sources.
After the game, Benfica manager Jorge Jesus admitted he wouldn’t know even if Matic had been sold and his defeatist language does suggest that Matic will be leaving. Will it be to United? Potentially, but Chelsea are penned in as favourites to sign the player they sold a few years ago.
Ezequiel Garay – Porto were very poor going forward and Garay had a simple afternoon at the back but he also played his part in the attack when he nodded in Benfica’s second goal to seal the victory.
Garay has been linked with United for nearly a year now. A proposed move fell through in the summer because Moyes decided he didn’t want him but with Rio Ferdinand all but gone, Nemanja Vidic on his last legs and Phil Jones injury prone, United need to sign a quality centre back.
At 27, he is very established and would walk straight into our first team if Moyes wanted him to. However, Moyes didn’t want him in the summer – would his opinion have been changed now?
Fernando – Typical of his season so far, Fernando put in a great shift in the middle of the park. He put in a lot of leg work and tried to breath some life into Porto’s fightback but it wasn’t to be.
On paper, Fernando is everything that Moyes wants in a signing – available, top class, experienced and value for money. O Jogo claimed he had agreed a deal to sign a new contract with FC Porto but nothing has yet been confirmed.
He secured a Portuguese passport this year which would make a move to United simpler and although his agent has confirmed talks have been held with Napoli, Fernando is still available and Moyes would have been impressed by his performance against Benfica.
Eliaquim Mangala – On the day, Mangala was one of Porto’s best players despite the scoreline. Even at the very end when the game was lost and Benfica broke away, he ran 30 yards to put in a brilliant last ditch tackle that he was wrongly booked for.
Back in March of this year, Mangala admitted it was the best feeling to be linked with a move to United and he does look like an excellent like-for-like replacement for Vidic – a dominant, physical type of centre back.
However at 22, Mangala is considered one of the best defensive prospects in Europe and would certainly be a strong acquisition by Moyes.
Alexis Sandro – Up against a fired up Benfica, Sandro struggled and wasn’t one of Porto’s best performers on the day.
Aran Sohal took a look at why Sandro would be a great signing for United but with a deal for Fabio Coentrao nearly complete, a move for Sandro seems unlikely.
Thank you to @JoeTaylor84 for his take on the players’ performances today.