Portuguese sports daily Record has reported that Manchester United have a gentlemen’s agreement to sign Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay for €20 million (£17.1m) this summer. The Argentina international center-back has been linked with a move to United for some time and it is claimed that the change in managers at Old Trafford should not impact the deal. The reported fee matches Garay’s release clause.
The 26-year-old signed for Benfica for €5.5 million (£4.7m) in 2011 after failing to make a mark during his three-years with Real Madrid, which were punctuated with a loan spell at Real Sociedad. Garay has been a big success in Portugal and his ability on the ball could see him ear-marked as a successor for Rio Ferdinand. The 34-year-old recently signed a one-year contract extension, but new manager David Moyes could well be wanting an experienced alternative with Ferdinand’s struggles to play two games in quick succession.
Manchester United’s name has also become the latest to be thrown into the ring of speculation over the future of Fiorentina forward Stevan Jovetic. The 23-year-old has been strongly linked with moves to both Juventus and Arsenal this summer, but Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Moyes is also interested.
The gifted Montenegrin will not come cheap, however. Contrary to previous suggestions, Fiorentina have insisted that Jovetic has not asked to leave and that he will only be available if a fixed valuation is met.
“Stevan is not on the market,” Fiorentina’s sporting director Daniele Prade told Corriere dello Sport. “There is a promise made by the president [Andrea Della Valle] to him, that he can leave him if we get an offer of €30 million (£25.7m) cash. If not we'd gladly keep him. Jovetic has not said he wants to go away, it's a subject that will have to do with him and the president. There have not been offers, we only met the player's agent [Fali] Ramadani. The president has not authorized me to speak with Juventus, it is up to the president to decide."
United have long been linked with a move for Stoke City goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and the club’s chairman Peter Coates has admitted they wouldn’t stand in the player’s way if a club of United’s stature came in for him. At the time United’s interest was first mooted, David de Gea was still enduring some struggles in adapting to the English game. Yet, with the young Spaniard having impressed so much as the season went on that he was voted into the PFA Team of the Year, there must be strong doubts that United would still want to spend the reported £15 million it would take to secure the 25-year-old.
Despite new Stoke manager Mark Hughes wanting to persuade Begovic to stay, United appear to have been given the green light to make an offer. "He’s very ambitious and wants to do well,” Coates said, according to ESPN. “I don’t think a football club can stand in the way of Manchester United and that ilk. If they come in for him and the money is okay for us we would do it, but there is no pressure to sell. Asmir might get approached and we might feel he should be let go. We expect him to be here next year."
It is believed that Moyes’s priority in the transfer market is strengthening his midfield. In the past year, Manchester United have been strongly linked with Celtic’s powerful midfielder Victor Wanyama, but it appears that there will be strong competition should they follow up that interest. According to the Kenyan’s former coach at the JMJ Youth Academy at Nairobi, Arsenal are keenly pursuing the 21-year-old.
"Victor's father, Noah, calls me almost every week and he tells me Arsenal's interest is big," Jean-Marie Abeels told the Daily Mail. "Wenger spoke to Celtic around a month ago and Victor's father and his mother, Mildred, says he would prefer to go there before any other club. I will be speaking to his parents again in a week's time and Victor also. But I already know that Arsenal have a big interest in the player.”