MANCHESTER UNITED want Benfica star Ezequiel Garay to beef up their shaky defence.
The club are ready to bid £15million for the Argentina centre-back at the end of the season.
United have watched Garay, 26, several times this term and have made their interest known to the Portuguese champions.
Alex Ferguson’s scouts studied him in the 3-1 win at Sporting Lisbon on December 10. And they were there again for Wednesday’s 2-1 away win at SC Olhanense.
But United will face a battle to get their man, with Italian champions Juventus also interested.
Garay joined Benfica in the summer of last year after two seasons with Real Madrid.
He struggled to get into Jose Mourinho’s side at the Bernabeu but was the defensive rock for Benfica last season as they won the Portuguese title.
And Real clearly felt the player had talent as they are due a 50 per cent sell-on fee if he leaves Lisbon.
United have had problems in the centre of defence for the best part of 18 months.
Rio Ferdinand, who is in the last year of his contract, is injury prone while Nemanja Vidic has played only six games in the last year because of a knee injury.