Ezequiel Garay
Ezequiel Garay could well be on his way to Manchester United if David Moyes approves his transfer. [Reuters]

Manchester United are the favourites to sign Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay after it was revealed the Premier League champions already have an agreement in place with the Primeira Liga club.

Portuguese publication Record has reported that United reached a 'gentlemen's agreement' with Benfica back in January, stating that Garay would join the club in the summer for a fee of around €20m.

Garay has long been linked with a potential move to Old Trafford as he was seemingly earmarked as a future successor to Rio Ferdinand who is entering the latter stages of his wildly successful career.

The 26 year old has excelled since joining Benfica after a difficult two year period at Real Madrid where he struggled to force his way regularly into the first team, making just five league appearances under Jose Mourinho.

He helped Benfica run Porto close for the league title last season but the club fell just short after losing to the eventual champions in the penultimate game of the season.

Manchester United's recently departed manager Sir Alex Ferguson was said to have secured the agreement but it must now come down to new boss David Moyes to decide whether to push through a deal.

The former Everton manager officially takes charge of Manchester United on 1 July but he is already having meeting with the club's hierarchy as he makes a number of changes behind the scenes.

Moyes may decide against signing the Argentina international but Record believe that Benfica are confident that a deal will go through, despite the deal merely being of a verbal nature.

United already have plenty of options at centre-back with Ferdinand and Nemnaja Vidic still the preferred partnership, while Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans and Phil Jones are also competing for a regular first team spot in that position.

However, United did have some problems defensively last season as they consistently went behind, and Moyes may well decide that Garay is the man to add some steel to the back four and eventually succeed Ferdinand.