Manchester United are apparently pulling out of a deal to sign Ezequiel Garay from Benfica, according to Portuguese paper Record.
Record has been insistent for a long time that United had an agreement to get Garay, and it seemed like a bizarre transfer for all concerned, with United pretty strong at centre-back and in need of upgrades elsewhere. In addition, Garay is something of a known quantity - he's solid enough, but certainly not an improvement on our current backline.
Now, however, Record claims that the two clubs can't agree a fee. Garay's release clause is 20m euros, and Benfica want something approaching that. United, understandably, don't want to pay that much. So attentions have supposedly turned towards Italian international Davide Astori, a Cagliari centre-back.
Astori is pretty highly-rated - Napoli bid for him but were knocked back by the player, resulting in Aurelio de Laurentiis coming out with some choice tweets following a Napoli victory later in the season. He's certainly as good as Garay, maybe better. And he comes at a price rumoured to be £10m euros, a fair bit less than Garay.
So, it's probably a good deal in isolation. The reason it might not be a good deal is that we have Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans at centre-back. There's also Michael Keane, who's impressed enough to be included on this season's tour. When we probably need two midfielders, a winger and a left-back, it seems a bit daft to go chasing after central defenders.
The report was reasonably-sourced in Italy, but now Cagliari have insisted that Astori is not for sale. This is a bit of a strange one, and United have been linked to a lot of Italian players recently, but we'll let you know if anything develops.