Ezequiel Garay to Chelsea: Former Manchester United target identified as back-up plan to Blues' John Stones bid with talks opened

Garay is looking to leave Zenit St-Petersburg and could be a short-term fix for Chelsea's defensive concerns

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The Independent Football

Chelsea are ready to mount a Plan B approach for Zenit St Petersburg defender Ezequiel Lavezzi should they fail to land their priority target in Everton's John Stones.

The Toffees are prepared to hold out for around £40m should Chelsea wish to sign England international Stones before the 1 September deadline, and with John Terry and Gary Cahill experiencing a difficult fortnight in the games against Manchester City and West Brom.

That could force the Londoners to either sanction a hefty fee that almost equals the current price paid for a British player – the £44m City paid for Raheem Sterling earlier this summer – or seek an alternative option.

 

The Daily Mail reports that the second option is looking likely, with Garay emerging as the leading contender. The Argentina international is already looking for a way out of the Russian club, with Spanish clubs Valencia and Roma both interested.

However, a move for the 28-year-old would come as a bit of a surprise, given that it was Jose Mourinho who elected to sell Garay from Real Madrid in 2011 after deeming him not good enough to remain in his squad.

 

Having played 31 times for his country, Garay offers far more experience than Stones would, though he would represent a short-term fix with Mourinho’s heart still set on bringing Stones to Stamford Bridge. Chelsea are aware that the 21-year-old would like to discuss a move, but remains unable to unless Everton give him the green light.

Along with Real, Garay has also turned out for Argentinian side Newell’s Old Boys before moving to Spain to join Racing Santander. After three years at Real Madrid – which included one on loan with Racing before completing his move – Mourinho elected to sell Garay to Portuguese side Benfica, before Zenit came calling in 2014 in a €15m move.

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Chelsea are believed to have opened talks over Zenit defender Garay

Garay was part of the Zenit side that won the 2014/15 Russian Premier League, and has previously attracted attention from Premier League rivals Manchester United.

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