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.

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

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate