Back

United given Garay hope after Zenit move fails

Reports suggest that Benfica centre back Ezequiel Garay, valued at £17m, may finally be a Manchester United player in the summer, after a move to Russian club Zenit St Petersberg in February failed to materialise.

The Argentine’s national coach Alejandro Sabella advised him against changing leagues so close to the World Cup, which has given under-pressure David Moyes (who is odds-on at 4/7 not to be United manager for the first game next season) a sigh of relief.

Moyes’ Red Devils are currently down in sixth place and 11 points off the Champions League places. They currently have odds of 7/1 for a top four finish.

With captain Nemanja Vidic moving on in the summer, and long-term defensive partner Rio Ferdinand likely to leave or even retire, United have a huge task ahead to fill in that massive gap.

A former Real Madrid player, Garay certainly has the credentials, and at 27 is entering his peak. He has just 18 international caps to his name, however, but was recently called up to the Argentina squad for their friendly with Romania on March 5th.

He has been in top form and ever-present this season in the Primeira Liga (except the last game) and Champions League, and helped his side to the head of the Portuguese top-flight after 20 games. They have conceded the joint-fewest amount in the league – level with second-placed Lisbon rivals Sporting.

Benfica are first by five points, and in the 19 games Garay has played, the club have kept nine clean sheets. His defensive record the season before was even more impressive, with 14 shut-outs in the 27 matches he featured in.

One of many things the Red Devils have lacked this season is goals, and Garay does not disappoint in that department either. In his first full season at Spanish club Racing Santander, he managed to score an impressive nine times in 31 appearances, and has four in the league this term go far.

United have also been linked with central defenders, Mehdi Benatia, Eliaquim Mangala and former Manchester City player Stefan Savic.