Manchester United have reportedly tabled a €30 million bid for Benfica midfielder Nicolas Gaitan.

The 23-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford in recent months, with Sir Alex Ferguson claimed to be an admirer of the player in a handful of British papers.

And now, Argentine publication Ole is claiming the Red Devils have tabled a big-money offer for the former Boca Juniors starlet.

The report comes on the same day Ferguson attempted to play down transfer speculation linking Manchester United with a handful of players. The Scot insisted only long-term targets would be on the agenda in January, with the current injury crisis not affecting the club's policy.

"(I won't buy) unless someone appears we have always been interested in appears, but there isn't (at the moment)," he said in today's Manchester United pre-match press conference.

Whether Gaitan fits that particular bracket is up for debate, although The Daily Telegraph reported in October that scouts from Manchester United had watched the six-cap Argentina international on a number of occasions.

Ferguson got an even closer look in their two Champions League clashes against the Águias earlier this season, although a reported £40 million minimum fee release clause could prove to be a major stumbling block for the English champions.

The Manchester United manager is thought to have money at his disposal, with a replacement for the retired Paul Scholes at the top of the wanted list for the club's fans at least.

And, whilst Tom Cleverley has filled in admirably when fit, a big-name like Gaitan could prove to be the key to keeping the title challenge on course.

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