Sunday 11 December 2016

Manchester United transfer news: Van Gaal closes in on Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan

Published 04/07/2015 | 11:30

Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan
Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan

Manchester United are ready to make another move to sign Benfica midfielder Nicolas Gaitan.

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Reports in Portugal are claiming United will battle it out with Atletico Madrid to sign the 27-year-old, who has been a target for United since 2011.

The Portuguese newspapers A Bola and O Jogo both claim that United are in pole position to sign Gaitan should they table a bid that matches Benfica's valuation of the player.

They also claim that a move to Old Trafford remains Gaitan's preferred option, with United ready to offer him better terms than Atletico.

But a deal would appear to hinge on whether Angel Di Maria remains a United player next season. The club's record signing endured a horrible first season in English football and has been linked with a move away this summer, with Louis van Gaal saying that he would not stand in his way if he asked to leave.

However, some impressive performances in the Copa America in Chile have served as a reminder of Di Maria's qualities, and United are reluctant to write him off after just one year.

That could mean disappointment for Gaitan, who was first scouted by United in 2011. The club began talks with Benfica in November of that year, with the Portuguese demanding a fee of around £38million - the release clause in his contract at the time. Twenty per cent of that fee would be due to Gaitan's former club, Boca Juniors.

The player himself remains relaxed about his future, in public at least, and not surprisingly as his current contract expires in 2018.

Meanwhile, David De Gea has been warned that he risks being considered a traitor by Atletico Madrid fans if he joins Real Madrid this summer.

De Gea is widely expected to leave Old Trafford this summer, with Real keen to do a deal before they leave for their pre-season tour of Australia later this month.

But Tomas Ujfalusi, a former Atletico defender, said De Gea should expect a backlash from fans of his old club if he pursues a move.

"No, no, no. They are not going to forgive him [if he joins Real Madrid], for sure,” Ujfalus is quoted as saying by The Daily Mail.

“It’s not going to be easy for him to make this decision It’s also a surprise for me because he’s an Atletico Madrid fan – when he was young his heart was with Atletico Madrid.”

Gaitan - who has nine caps for Argentina - is quoted in A Bola as saying: “I have a contract, I’m here and all I want to work as calmly as possible."

De Gea's future could hinge on whether Real are prepared to sell Sergio Ramos to United this summer, and the defender's former coach at Real - Paul Clement - believes United would be buying one of the best centre-halves in the world if they can close the deal.

Clement said: "He is a wonderful player, one of the best I have ever worked with. So many qualities, a fantastic footballer, leader, competitor, athlete, a fantastic guy.

"He is one of the best centre-halves in the world and I've worked with some good ones like John Terry, Thiago Silva at PSG, good ones in Pepe and Raphael Varane but Ramos is up there with the best I've worked with.

"Whether at Real Madrid or United, either club are going to massively benefit."

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