Manchester United have a deal in place to sign Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay ahead of the summer transfer window, according to the Express. Sir Alex Ferguson is a huge fan of the Argentine and is understood to have earmarked the player as a long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand.
The Red Devils reportedly failed with a bid for Garay in the January transfer window. Benfica demanded a fee around £25m, while United were looking to land the player for half that price. Garay is keen to sign for the Premier League leaders and is understood to have changed his agent to facilitate a move to United at the end of the season. The trick seems to have worked for the player, as he readies himself for a stint in the English top flight.
Garay has been the mainstay of the Benfica defence since his transfer from Real Madrid in 2011 and is the perfect candidate to partner Nemanja Vidic at the heart of the United defence. The Red Devils have been poor defensively this season, having conceded 31 goals in the league. Garay's presence could help to alleviate the lapses next season, especially if Ferdinand decides to leave the club or hang up his boots.
The defender has also been a regular in the Argentina national side this season, starting in each of their five World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Smalling Hails San Marino Thrashing
England and Manchester United defender Chris Smalling has praised the Three Lions following their 8-0 thrashing of minnows San Marino in the qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. England are currently second in their group, with their much-anticipated clash with group leaders Montenegro scheduled for Tuesday.
"We've got a very strong squad, it's well over 20 and I think a lot of people have put their cases forward for Tuesday because we know that's the big one. It's great to see a lot of the lads just all chipping in. Wazza [Rooney] scored a great free kick but you could see there's goals all around the team and the subs coming on as well so it was a good all-round performance," Smalling told Sky Sports.