The agent of highly-rated Benfica forward Nicolas Gaitan has claimed Manchester United have held preliminary talks with the Portuguese club over a possible transfer in January.
United have been linked with a series of playmakers since the retirement of Paul Scholes, and were strongly linked with a move for Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder over the summer.
With a move for the Dutchman seemingly dead in the water, Sir Alex Ferguson appears to have switched his attention to Gaitan having been impressed with the 23-year-old when he played against United for Benfica in the Champions League.
Gaitan’s agent, Jose Irribaran, insisted he had not been contacted by the reigning Premier League champions aver a possible switch, but admitted the two clubs had held talks over a January deal.
"I have not received any contact from United but there have been conversations between the two clubs," he told Antena.
"If these talks progress, then we will get our time to speak.
"But Nico is very happy at Benfica and is looking forward to enjoying a successful season."
Valued at around £25 million, a move for the young Argentinian would represent a departure from Ferguson’s usual philosophy in the January transfer window which errs on the side of caution, however a succession of injuries in midfield may have forced his hand.
Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverly and Anderson are all currently sidelined, meaning Ferguson has been forced to deploy both Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones out of position in the centre of the park in recent weeks.
United are also rumoured to be interested in bringing Gaitan’s team-mate Javi Garcia to Old Trafford.
However Benfica refused to comment on the potential transfer of either player, with a club spokesman saying: "The club do not respond to news published in the papers."