Manchester Derby Defeat Inspires The Hunt

Manchester United are preparing to launch a staggering £40million bid for Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan. The midfielder shone against the Old Trafford club in the Champions League last month and was rewarded with a new five-year deal this week. But the Portuguese giants were unable to increase his release clause beyond £40m, and United lead a host of clubs in the race for his signature.

United have had the playmaker scouted several times by the club's European team which is headed by Sir Alex Ferguson's brother, Martin. Inter Milan and Paris St Germain are also interested in Gaitan who doubled his salary to £2m a year after penning his new contract. The Argentine began his career at Boca Juniors before joining Benfica for £8m in 2010. His club hope to hold on to him for at least another 18 months.

Many observers rate Gaitan better than Angel di Maria who left Benfica for Real Madrid in 2010 for £25m. Although he has largely been deployed as a left-sided winger by Benfica in recent months,Gaitan has regularly played in an advanced role behind the attack, a position United have yet to fill following Paul Scholes’s retirement at the end of last season.

Ferguson has been chasing a midfielder for some time and could also reignite his interest in Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder who may be allowed to leave the San Siro to fund a move for Eden Hazard. United's scouting team have also been watching Athletic Blibao's Spain Under 21 midfielder Javi Martinez who would be expected to cost around £18m. Anderlecht’s Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia is another reported target.

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