Manchester United are considering a summer bid for Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay, according to the Metro.
The Premier League leaders have reportedly contacted their Portuguese counterpart over a bid at the end of the season. In addition, Sir Alex Ferguson also had his brother, Martin Ferguson, scout Benfica's league match last weekend and Old Trafford officials have now settled on the former Real Madrid centre-back as a priority signing.
Ferguson's attention to Garay is understandable, given that first choice Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are both well on the wrong side of 30 and will need to be replaced, with both players nearing the end of their United careers.
The club reportedly made a bid for the 26-year-old Garay in the winter but failed to agree a valuation. Benfica wanted approximately £26m for their star. However, the summer window will likely see an agreement in place, if only because Ferguson is keen on his man and believes him to be excellent value for money.
Garay has made 19 appearances for Benfica this season and has helped his team to the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga; they lead FC Porto by two points with nine games left in the season.
The Argentine, who rose to European prominence during his days with Racing Santander in Spain's La Liga, has a sell-on clause in his contract that Marca believes will net Madrid a percentage of any transfer fee. This means Benfica are likely to overvalue their player, in order to retain what they see as fair value for their player.
However, the fact United have conceded 31 goals in the league this season will no doubt persuade Ferguson to push through this deal. The Red Devils have also been linked with a move for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels but have yet to make an official bid.
Former United Players Criticise Roy Keane
Meanwhile, a number of former United players have criticised ex-midfielder and captain Roy Keane for his comments on Nani's red card. The Portuguese was sent off during Tuesday's Champions League match against Madrid and the controversial decision directly affected the game - United surrendered a 2-1 aggregate lead to lose 3-2 to Jose Mourinho's men.
"Does Roy want to be noticed? Is he envious, jealous, or has he got the needle with Manchester United? He is in a minority of one. Nobody else agrees with him. The referee was wrong," Paddy Crerand, who spent eight seasons with the club, asked after his comments.
"I think the only person in the stadium who thought it was a sending-off was Roy Keane. I'm glad Keane didn't take up refereeing as a profession," Bryan Robson added.