The west London side have already informed the Portuguese side of their interest and are expected to mount a transfer bid in the summer.
United have been long known admirers of the Argentine centre-half but Chelsea are now looking to pinch the player’s signature under their rivals’ noses.
With John Terry seemingly in the closing stage of his career and David Luiz heavily linked with a move to Spanish giants Barcelona, Chelsea could see Garay as the ideal replacement.
After failing to establish himself at Real Madrid, the tough-tackling 26-year-old joined Benfica for just €5 million in 2011 and has since only enhanced his growing reputation.
Spanish giants Real Madrid will be entitled to half of whatever fee is agreed between Benfica and the English duo, who could be set for an enthralling bidding war this summer.
The Argentine, who has won 11 caps for his country, will only boost his credentials and international chances further if he is a success in the Premier League.
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