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United not signing Garay, linked to Azzurri star instead

Portuguese paper Record, who have led the way in insisting Manchester United will sign Ezequiel Garay, have now changed their tune, with United instead linked to Davide Astori of Cagliari.

Claudio Villa

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.