Manchester United are close to completing a €30 million deal for Benfica’s attacking midfielder Nicolas Gaitan.
This is according to A Bola, whose latest front page states that the deal will be finalised after the Portuguese cup final on Friday night.
It was reported by the Mirror last week that Gaitan’s entourage - including the player’s high-profile agent, Jorge Mendes - were in London for talks with an English club, understood to have been Manchester United.
The same report explained that Chelsea were also interested in the Argentina international, whose Benfica contract features a £24.9 million (€35 million) release clause.
However, A Bola understand that Manchester United have won the race to sign the technically-gifted 27-year-old, who has spent the past five years with Benfica after signing from Boca Juniors.
Gaitan to replace Di Maria - again?
Benfica signed Gaitan, incidentally, to replace Angel di Maria, who secured a big-money move to Real Madrid.
So, is there a chance that history will repeat itself this summer?
Di Maria is believed to be unsettled in Manchester following a dismal debut season in England with the Red Devils.
Gaitan’s international teammate, who cost a club-record £59.7 million to sign, is on the radar of French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
If Van Gaal feels that Di Maria, who limped off injured during United’s 0-0 draw with Hull City on Sunday afternoon, no longer has a future at Old Trafford then Gaitan would be a like-for-like replacement as a left-sided winger.
But Di Maria was brought to Old Trafford to play in central midfield - an experiment that has failed in the Premier League - and this would still leave United short in that area of the pitch.
Bad news for Januzaj or Mata?
Manchester United have completed a deal for Memphis Depay, the 21-year-old Dutch winger, and may feel that Gaitan would be a more effective option that Adnan Januzaj.
Januzaj’s career has stalled since the arrival of Van Gaal and it’s possible that the Belgium international will be loaned out next season.
Gaitan can also play in a more central role if required and this could leave Juan Mata’s future in doubt.
While the Spanish playmaker enjoyed a purple patch between March and April, Van Gaal may feel the former Chelsea star lacks the consistency to hold down a first-team place in a squad challenging for the Premier League title.
Manchester United fans: which player should Nicolas Gaitan replace in Louis van Gaal’s starting line-up? Have your say in the comments below!
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