United must pay £35m for tricky Gaitan

 

Manchester United will have to pay Benfica at least £35m if they are to make good on their interest in Benfica's Nicolas Gaitan, the midfielder who excelled against them in the Champions League.

A new contract Gaitan has signed with his club earlier this week keeps his release clause at £39m and it is considered unlikely that the Lisbon side, who have seen many of their star players leave over the past two years, would be willing to negotiate down much further. Sir Alex Ferguson, whose tendency to sign players who have performed well against United has seen Cristiano Ronaldo and Phil Jones arrive at Old Trafford among others, is interested in the player considered by some Portuguese observers to be an even better talent than his compatriot Angel di Maria, who left for Real Madrid in the summer of last year.

The agent Jorge Mendes' links with United contribute to the sense that the Argentine playmaker will be a target next summer. Though Gaitan's agent is Rafael Irribarren, Mendes – who brought David de Gea to Old Trafford – concluded the deal with Benfica which delivered the 23-year-old to Lisbon.

Though Ferguson has had problems with Argentines, Carlos Tevez and Gabriel Heinze, in the past, the way Gaitan destroyed United's Fabio da Silva on Benfica's left in the first half-hour of the clubs' 1-1 draw last month impressed him. Chris Smalling effectively had to take over the Brazilian right-back's role for him in a difficult opening for United and Gaitan's superb ball for Oscar Cardozo set up the Portuguese side's goal, later equalised by Ryan Giggs. Ferguson's brother, Martin, who scouts for him, has watched Gaitan, though Cardozo is another who has impressed him.

A one-year contract extension has seen Gaitan committed to Benfica until 2016, though it is a typical Portuguese device to bring his wages in line with his performances, rather an expression of his devotion to Jorge Jesus's side – whom United meet at Old Trafford on 22 November. Gaitan was previously earning less than €1m a year and now commands a salary of €2m.

Though United look like a side in need of a playmaker – the role Gaitan held at Boca Juniors before his €8.4m move in the close season – Jesus has deployed him in a left-sided berth with which he is actually less comfortable. The view from within Portugal is that Benfica may try to keep him at the club for another season if they win the domestic title, though there is an acceptance that the form he has displayed may make him a target for one of Europe's elite. Less dangerous in one-to-one situations than Di Maria but a more intelligent footballer, he is the most influential player in the Benfica side. Any United move for him looks unlikely before the summer but with the prospect of Dimitar Berbatov remaining beyond then looking slim, a reinforcement is likely.

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower