In a shocking turn of events, Benfica's Ezequiel Garay agreed to a move to Russian side Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday for a reported fee as little as €15 million.
Football writer Jan Hagen shared the news, and he too was shocked with the price tag:
Official: Zenit have signed Benfica and Argentina defender Ezequiel Garay for €6(!) million. http://t.co/7nUYd17kpt— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) June 25, 2014
€6m is of course Benfica's cut of Garay's transfer. They only own 40% of his rights. Real Madrid own 50%. Third-party 10%. €15m in total.— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) June 25, 2014
As Hagen points out, the reported fee of €6 million is only Benfica's cut of the total transfer fee. The remainder will go to Real Madrid (who own 50 percent of his rights) and a third party.
One of the reasons Zenit were able to acquire the Argentine centre-back for such a fee was the fact he was going into the final year on his contract with the Portuguese side. But with interest in his services reportedly high, social media immediately questioned why Benfica would settle for such a fee.
Bundesliga Spotlight pointed out Bayern Munich were on the list of clubs interested in his services:
Ezequiel Garay, once linked with #FCBayern, has completed his move from Benfica to Zenit St Petersburg.— Bundesliga Spotlight (@BundesligaSpot) June 25, 2014
Manchester United were also a possible landing spot for Garay, per Goal.com:
The Russian club have announced the signing of Benfica centre-back and Argentina international Ezequiel Garay on a five-year deal. He had previously been linked with Manchester United and will join up with his new side after the World Cup.
Garay, 27, enjoyed a phenomenal season with Benfica in 2013-14, winning the Portuguese title and advancing to the final of the UEFA Europa League. The centre-back was a rock in the team's defence and regularly contributed in front of goal through set pieces as well.
Tall, athletic and very powerful, he has a knack for completely shutting down the opposing team's best striker. As a member of Argentina's national team, he has so far started every one of his nation's 2014 World Cup matches.
Via Hagen, Garay released a statement thanking the fans for his wonderful time in Portugal:
Ezequiel Garay: "I want to thank everyone at Benfica for 3 magnificent years and especially the fans for all the love they gave me."— Jan Hagen (@PortuBall) June 25, 2014
Garay isn't the most technically advanced defender, but in Russia, he will form a partnership with Belgian international and Zenit captain Nicolas Lombaerts. The Red Devil has been with the club for several years now, and his combination of vision and awareness will suit Garay's playing style perfectly.
Zenit have been slowly building a Champions League squad for the past few years, and with manager Andre Villas-Boas at the helm and one of the richest owners in all of football (Gazprom), it has become a very attractive destination for transfer targets.
The quick transfer means Garay can now turn his full attention to the 2014 World Cup, before joining his new teammates once that competition is over.