Old Trafford boss set to make big money offer to strengthen squad.
Manchester United have stepped up their interest in the Benfica midfielders Nicolas Gaitan and Javi Garcia, placing their discussions with the Portuguese side on an official footing in an attempt to prevent other clubs getting in ahead of them.
United have asked Benfica, who advanced from United’s group into the Champions League knockout stage, to notify them of any moves from other clubs for either of the two midfielders, both of whom impressed in this autumn’s fixtures against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
United scouts watched both Gaitan and Garcia at Benfica’s recent matches against Naval and Sporting Lisbon matches specifically to develop a clearer picture on them, rather than to prepare for United’s encounter with Benfica on 22 November, in which both played.
Ferguson insisted yesterday that “it is not a consistent route for us to buy in January simply because of all the disadvantages”, and Benfica have indicated to United that they will not encourage any transfers until next summer. But Ferguson did not preclude the idea of reinforcing, as he did by signing Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic in the winter of 2006 after United’s last Champions League group stage exit.
Sir Alex Ferguson clearly feels that he needs to strengthen his squad after seeing his Old Trafford side crash out of the Champions League and fall five points behind rivals Man City in the Premier League title race and a move to sign one, or both, of these Benfica men could well help in his push to make up ground.
The Man United boss is clearly a fan of bringing in players from the Portuguese league having brought in the likes of Nani, Anderson and Cristiano Ronaldo from that route and the Scot has had scouts monitoring both Nicolas Gaitan and Javi Garcia for a chunk of the current campaign that has seen Benfica keep up the pace with FC Porto with both sides remaining unbeaten all season.
Gaitan is an attacking midfielder who moved to Benfica from Boca Juniors 18 months ago and is now a focal point for the club’s attacking movement. The Argentine is an assist machine and a regular goalscorer and may just what Ferguson is looking for to help link midfield and attack.
Garcia is a former Real Madrid man and a strong tackling defensive midfielder who is on the fringes of the Spanish national team. The 24 year old can also play effectively at centre back.
The pair are valued at around €50m (£42m) and it is apparently a price that Ferguson is willing to pay and would hope that Man United’s owners are ready to fund such a move to help keep pace with the spending going on in the other half of Manchester.