Real Madrid have frozen their interest in signing Nicolas Otamendi as the Valencia centre-back is in advanced negotiations to move to Manchester United. Instead, the club has turned its attention to Ezequiel Garay, according to Spanish newspaper AS.
Marca reported last month that former Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has earmarked the signing of Otamendi as his top priority should Sergio Ramos make the move to Old Trafford.
Eugenio Lopez, the agent of the Argentine international, revealed earlier in the summer that his client is likely to leave Valencia to make a step up in his career, with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Manchester United monitoring the situation.
With United interested in signing Ramos, it looked as if Otamendi's move to Old Trafford was unlikely.
But Lopez himself recently told Cadena Cope that the transfers of his client and Ramos are not linked, assuring that before the Spaniard leaves Real Madrid, Otamendi will already be playing for a new club.
Spanish newspaper AS now claims that Louis van Gaal's exciting idea is to eventually sign both Ramos and Otamendi to form an impressive partnership at the centre of his defence.
The Spanish publication claims that Real Madrid have now turned their attention to Garay to replace Ramos, claiming that "United are at an advanced stage with Otamendi" while pointing out the fact the Valencia centre-back is a non-EU player, complicating further his move to the Santiago Bernabeu.
Benitez already has four non-EU players in his squad in James Rodriguez, Danilo, Casemiro and Lucas Silva – with one forced to leave the club during the summer transfer window to fulfil the La Liga regulation.
Silva is expected to go on loan to solve the problem but in case Real Madrid sign Otamendi they will also need to part ways with Casemiro, who has just been brought in from Porto.
On Tuesday 7 July AS revealed Otamendi was "closer" to securing a move to Old Trafford as his agent is expected to "accelerate" the negotiations to convince Valencia to let him go for less than his €50m (£35.5m, $54.8m) release clause this week.