One of the more predictable pieces of Manchester United’s summer transfer business will be finding a replacement for departing captain Nemanja Vidic, with long-term target Ezequiel Garay – of Argentina and Benfica – thought to be at the top of David Moyes’ centre-half wish list.
Serbian bruiser Vidic’s Red Devils farewell tour continues in Greece when his side take on Olympiacos in the Champions League last 16, with the visitors priced up as 23/20 favourites to win for the fifth time in five matches against the Piraeus-based club since the turn of the century.
The 32-year-old would dearly love to skipper his side to success in the continent’s premier competition at 18/1 odds, but plans are already afoot to move for Vidic’s replacement and according to reports, former Real Madrid stopper Garay is the man Moyes wants.
Garay’s career began in his homeland with local club Newell’s Old Boys, before then La Liga outfit Racing Santander snapped him up as a 19-year-old in December 2005.
The Rosario native was a revelation in his first full season in Cantabria, scoring nine goals as Santander jumped from 17th in 2005/06 to 10th in 2006/07.
They did even better in the next campaign and qualified for Europe by finishing fifth in the Spanish top flight, but Los Blancos came calling and the lure of the Bernabeu proved too strong for Garay, who signed for Madrid in May 2008 but stayed on loan to help Los Verdiblancos avoid relegation the following season.
As is often the case with the La Liga giants’ plethora of signings, Garay could not force his way into Madrid’s first team on a regular basis and was sold by then boss Jose Mourinho for a fee thought to be in the region of €5.5 million, having made 31 appearances over two campaigns.
Their loss has been Benfica’s gain, as the Eagles have finished second in Portugal’s top flight during Garay’s two seasons at the Stadio da Luz, with the gap to double-champions Porto narrowing from six points two terms ago to just a single point last May.
The 27-year-old has rediscovered his scoring touch too, with three goals in 16 Primeira Liga matches this season as his side have surged to the top of the table, four points ahead of third-placed Porto.
Moyes will certainly be getting a player at the peak of his powers if he lands Garay, but with the Argentina regular’s value at risk of rocketing if he impresses at the World Cup, United would be wise to move quickly as soon as this season ends.