Manchester United reportedly have interest in Benfica midfielder Nicolas Gaitan as a target for the upcoming January transfer window, according to Mark Odgen of the Telegraph. The 23-year-old signed a new five-year deal this week and his release clause is believed to be in the region of £40 million. Ogden reports that Gaitan has been watched numerous times by United boss Sir Alex Ferguson's scouting team. Inter Milan and Paris St. Germain are believed to be interested as well in the Argentine and perhaps this is what sparked Benfica to increase the wages of their midfielder.
Quite honestly, a potential £40 million transfer fee appears excessive. If Gaitan came to Old Trafford, he would be ineligible for UEFA Champions League this season because he has already appeared for Benfica in that competition. How much did Gaitan impress during his match versus United last month in Lisbon? In a narrow left-sided role, Gaitan provided an assist for Oscar Cardozo's goal and he contributed with 2 key passes. In addition, he showed some bite defensively with 4 tackles and displayed positional awareness with 2 interceptions. However, he curiously did not he receive any mention in our 'Q&A' with a Benfica fansite as a player to watch ahead of that match. Gaitan played decently well versus United but nothing about him that night made it clearly evident that he is a £40 million player. Granted, it was the first time that I could recollect watching him play and he appears to have been on Fergie's radar for some time. This figure, if not negotiated to a lower amount, would be a transfer fee record for United.
Gaitan began his professional career with Boca Juniors in 2008 and he made the move for Benfica in May 2010 for a fee believed to be €8.4 million. As mentioned, Gaitan played a narrow left-sided role against United in September but he is also capable of playing a central role in attack. It is no secret that Fergie has been in search of an incisive playmaker and it is believed that inquiries into Wesley Sneijder, Samir Nasri, and Luka Modric were made this past summer during the transfer window.
Gaitan comes to Old Trafford on November 22 when United host Benfica for a Champions League Group C clash. He will be one to watch for United supporters -- especially if this rumor has any truth to it.
How do you feel about this? Have you watched Gaitan play prior to his match last month versus United or since then? If so, share your thoughts.