Manchester United linked with Gaitan
Portugal's conviction that Manchester United are seeking a preliminary agreement on price for Benfica's Argentinian midfielder Nicolas Gaitan were strengthened yesterday when the weekly sports paper, which has closest and privileged access to Benfica, led with the story, writes Ian herbert
United do not comment on transfer speculation, though there were strong assertions from Manchester that the club do not have any interest in the player. Yet in Portugal, where there has been widespread surprise that Benfica have not even denied the story there is widely believed to be a preliminary agreement on the table.
'Record', a sports publication considered to be the best authority on Benfica, asserted that the story is valid. Its own account, which appears to be separately sourced, tallied almost entirely with reports so far -- the paper's only doubt being whether discussions on a preliminary deal are continuing or have concluded with a £29.3m valuation.
"Gaitan -- the end of the era; business to be completed at the end of the season," read the paper's headline.
Meanwhile, United, who travel to Fulham tonight, appear to have a strong hold on Dimitar Berbatov's future -- despite the fact that as of January 1 he can speak to other clubs about a move at the end of the season.
The Bulgarian's right to speak to suitors is triggered by him entering the final six months if his deal. But United's sway over him is the result of a "one-way" option in his contract which enables them to extend it by a year at any time until it expires. Berbatov has no say in whether United might invoke it. (© Independent News Service)