Manchester United have been given added hope that they can consummate their long-standing interest in Benfica’s Ezequiel Garay in recent days after the Lisbon side moved to bring in Lisandro Ezequiel Lopez from Arsenal De Sarandi as a de-facto replacement for his countryman.
United may already have five more than capable centre-halves within their ranks, but despite this the addition of an experienced operator such as Garay doesn’t just makes sense, it’s necessary.
The aforementioned quintet – Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling provide a good blend of potential and experience, but perhaps only Evans can be said to be a defender operating at the peak of his powers.
Ferdinand – fast approaching 35 – is in the twilight of his career, whilst Vidic is not much less injury-prone than his more senior colleague. Meanwhile, young bucks Smalling and Jones have found opportunities to prove themselves the club’s next great central-defensive pairing limited due to the pair’s propensity for injuries.
Given United have often seemed to fall foul of defensive injury crises in recent seasons – with Michael Carrick required to withdraw from midfield duties to deputise in the middle of the back four – so bringing in the Argentinian to bolster David Moyes’ options makes sense.
Garay’s career seemed to be on the up-and-up when he signed for Real Madrid from Racing Santander back in 2008, making his first start in 2009/10 after returning to his former club on a season-long loan. However, after a positive start he fell down the hierarchy following the arrival of Jose Mourinho, under whom he became fourth-choice centre-half at the Bernabeu.
Since, a move to Portugal has served to resurrect the 15 times-capped Argentinian international’s career and he shone as half of a miserly central defence with Jardel for Benfica last term, with the Eagles completing 20 shutouts in the 41 games he started.
The £17m price tag that the Estadio Da Luz outfit will reportedly demand for their man suggests that he’d be in line for more than his share of starts at Old Trafford, something which could be facilitated by Vidic leaving the club.
AC Milan have been linked with the 31-year-old and are thought to be waiting in the wings to pounce should Garay join the Manchester club.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.