German champions Bayern Munich have reportedly agreed a deal of €15million with Benfica for the transfer of defender Ezequiel Garay, according to reports in Argentina.
The Daily Star report that the 27-year-old is entering the final year of his contract at the Estadio da Luz, convincing the Portuguese club to accept a Bayern offer which equates to around £10m, despite Garay having a release fee of £15m.
Garay was part of the Benfica team that won the Primera Liga and reached the final of the Europa League last season and would become Bayern’s second acquisition of the summer, following the agreement to sign Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski form rivals Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer.
Regular starter Holger Badstuber has missed all of last season and has not featured for Die Bayern since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against Dortmund back in December 2012, which has given Jerome Boateng an extended run at the heart of the defence alongside experienced Brazilian Dante.
Boateng, who can play anywhere across the backline started 25 of Bayern’s Bundesliga games last term, primarily at centre back, whilst midfielder 25-year-old Javi Martinez has also dropped in to cover at times, although the Spaniard is thought to have been less than impressed with the situation despite performing a similar role for former club Athletic Bilbao on several occasions.
Garay’s arrival could allow Martinez, who cost Bayern €40m in 2012, to leave the Allianz Arena, with Pep Guardiola preferring to play with one holding midfielder rather than the two favoured under Jupp Heynckes and captain Phillip Lahm being his preferred option in that position.
Garay, who joined Benfica from Real Madrid in 2011 would more than likely oust Boateng and join Dante in coach Guardiola’s starting 11 and brings a wealth of experience to the table, having made over 200 league appearances in his career as well as having impressed in the Champions League and represented Argentina 18 times at senior level.
The move will come as a blow to Manchester United, who have been following the Argentine international closely for the last few seasons and are believed to see the 27-year-old as the perfect replacement for the departing Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, bringing experience and authority to their defence to assist the likes of Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
That approach seems to have regressed under new manager Louis van Gaal who is believed to have made BVB stalwart Mats Hummels his number one defensive target and has also been strongly linked with 22-year-old Bruno Martins Indi, who is part of his Holland squad for the World Cup, leaving Garay free to strengthen an already dominant Bayern force.
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