Manchester United are considering a transfer for Argentine Ezequiel Garay. The 26 year old international presently plays for Portuguese side Benfica and The Sun reports Red Devil scouts have watched the former Real Madrid star on several occasions this year. A £15m bid is being suggested.
The Old Trafford club may be having a stellar season up front, with summer signing Robin van Persie scoring goals for fun. However, down at the defensive end, injuries, poor form and age have exposed Sir Alex Ferguson's side on a number of occasions.
Serbian international Nemanja Vidic and United veteran Rio Ferdinand are both on the wrong side of 30, as is left back Patrice Evra. In addition, Vidic is only now recovering from early season injuries, while Ferdinand has, largely, been a shadow of his earlier self.
Right back Rafael continues to display a lack of defensive discipline, leaving only England youngsters Chris Smalling and Phil Jones (and fringe Dutchman Alexander Buttner) as Ferguson's first team options at the back.
All in all, United have conceded 36 goals this season, from 25 games.
Garay joined Benfica from Spanish champions Madrid last season and despite his lack of game time at the Santiago Bernabeu, the South American has established himself as a key part of Jorge Jesus' side. The defender was a part of Argentina's 2005 U20 World Cup-winning side, with Manchester City's Sergio Agüero and Barcelona's Lionel Messi as team mates.
However, Ferguson could rethink a move for Garay (if he is indeed planning one), at least at this point, because the defender is cup-tied for European games. The Argentine has already represented the Portuguese champions in the group stages; Benfica finished third behind Barcelona and Celtic.
Man Utd v Real Madrid
Meanwhile, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and Ferguson have both admitted delight at being paired opposite each other for the Champions League Round of 16 knock-out tie. The Spanish champions are nine-time winners of Europe's most prestigious club prize and last met the Red Devils in the 2002/03 season, when Ronaldo (the Brazilian international) struck a superb hat-trick at Old Trafford to guide the Spaniards to a 6-5 aggregate win.
"It's a good draw. We have played them twice before and knocked them out both times," Perez said.
"Well, it's the tie of the round. It's a great opportunity for our fans to see Cristiano again and also for me to meet up with Jose again - I'll need to order some good wine!" Ferguson added.