Manchester United have stepped up there interest in Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay after sending scouts to watch the Argentinean international last weekend, according to the Daily Mail.
The report claims United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is on the look-out for long-term replacements for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and is understood to have identified Benfica stopper Garay as a potential candidate.
The newspaper report that Fergie has already sent scouts to run-the-rule over the talented 26-year-old during Benfica’s games against Sporting Lisbon and Olhanense this season and it’s understood the Scot once again sent representatives to watch the player in action during a 2-2 draw with Porto last Sunday.
Garay has been in superb form since joining the Portuguese outfit in 2011 after two unsuccessful seasons in Spain with Real Madrid. However, the Mail claim Benfica are in financial trouble and can no longer afford to pay his wages and would be willing to sell for a fee in the region of £15m – with Madrid due 50% of any sale.
United already boast Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones at the heart of defence at Old Trafford all in-line to take over from the ageing Vidic and Ferdinand, but you can never have too many quality centre-backs and Garay could be an excellent addition if Fergie decides to follow up on his reported interest.
United’s defence has been uncharacteristically leaky this season so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ferguson does bring in another centre back soon, but the United boss isn’t really a fan of the January window so this may be one that has to wait till the summer.