Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson currently has a near-full squad to choose from. However, he has learned from previous experience that you cannot afford to sit on your laurels in this game, as somebody will come along and overtake you!
In years gone by, Sir Alex has made the mistake of identifying players whom Manchester United were going to try and sign, but since Abramovich arrived, all that has changed. Any mention of a transfer deal and Chelsea would jump in and gazump the deal with more cash. That happened with Robben, Mikel, Essien and countless others. Since that time, Manchester City has also started to do the same thing. So, Sir Alex tends to do deals beforehand, like the Wilfried Zaha deal with Crystal Palace. It is a pre-contract deal and is binding on both parties. It stops the financial cheats like Chelsea, City, and PSG etcetera from gazumping deals that have taken months to set up.
Last week, we discussed the likely transfer targets for the summer, but a new name has suddenly arisen and it looks like United will be trying to do the pre-contract deal again. This time the player is Ezequiel Garay, the Benfica centre back. This week, Manchester United found out that both Chelsea and Barcelona had been sniffing around after a leak from Benfica alerted them to the proposed deal with Manchester United.
Fortunately, Garay prefers a move to Old Trafford, so that has made things a bit easier, so Sir Alex, who has had his scouts watching Garay for nearly a year, has decided to move to stop and uncertainty. The fee is likely to be in the region of £15m, which is relatively high for a defender, but such is Garay`s emerging class that this amount will seem reasonable.
Sir Alex has Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, both very young defenders; already enjoying international football, but he needs experienced cover for Ferdinand and Vidic. He already has Jonny Evans who has emerged as a top centre back in the Premier League, but he needs an experienced partner for him.
I expect to see a pre-contract deal done between Manchester United and Benfica very soon.