Man Utd and Man City chase young Frenchman and Argentine star
Midfield reinforcements are a well-documented priority for both Manchester City and Manchester United this January.
A lack of invention in the United midfield saw them welcome the return of the ageing Paul Scholes this month, while City have sorely missed the drive and guile of Yaya Toure in his short time away on international duty so far.
Both sides now appear to have identified the same target to improve their squads, having each watched Argentine maestro Nicolas Gaitan during Benfica’s 2-0 League Cup win over Santa Clara on Wednesday.
Gaitan can operate on either wing, while also being effective in an advanced central midfield position, and this versatility would appeal to either club.
The diminutive Argentinian would not come cheap however, with a £37.5m release clause possibly requiring activation for his Portuguese club side to be willing to do any business.
While such a transfer fee would be within more realistic realms for Man City, it is thought that the player himself would prefer a move to Old Trafford, after declaring flattery to be spoken of so highly by Sir Alex Ferguson in the past after some sparkling Champions League performances.
A host of other European giants are in the frame to secure the services of the tricky winger, including Napoli and oil-rich Paris Saint-Germain, though it would still seem that the Red Devils have the edge should Benfica be willing to accept a fee of around £25m, which is probably the limit that Fergie would be able to offer.
Away from Gaitan, north-west rivals City and United are also battling it out for the signature of promising St Etienne defender Kurt Zouma.
At just 17 years old, the French centre-half has already made a big impression in Ligue 1, breaking into the St Etienne first team, and attracting very real interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs, who would welcome the chance to nurture him into a world star.