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.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week