The Daily Telegraph’s Mark Ogden today announced that a transfer between Benfica and Manchester United for 23-year-old Argentinean playmaker Nicolas Gaitán has been arranged between the sides. A fee of £29.3 million has been ‘informally agreed’ to by Benfica—despite earlier attempts to bring the fee up to the £38 million it would have taken to trigger Gaitán’s minimum fee release clause in his Benfica contract.
While the deal will likely be concluded in January, United have agreed that Gaitán will stay at Benfica until the summer and then move to Manchester.
Gaitán, a graduate of the Boca Juniors’ academy, played 66 games for the Argentinean giants from 2008 to 2010 and scored 12 goals, before moving to Benfica in Portugal in the summer of 2010 for a reported fee of €8.4 million. So far, Gaitán has made 32 appearances for the Portuguese side, scoring eight goals.
Gaitán also has six caps for Argentina, though is yet to score an international goal.
Gaitán plays primarily as an attacking midfielder. If the signing goes through, it can be assumed that Gaitán will either slot in behind Wayne Rooney in a 4-4-1-1, or play as a left-sided forward, should Sir Alex Ferguson choose to go for a 4-3-3.
The 23-year-old Gaitán is a skillful attacking midfielder with great dribbling talent and ball control, and he has great speed with the ball at his feet. Gaitán uses this—as well as great upper body strength—to keep the ball and beat defenders in tight areas.
He has an excellent range of passing, and delivers accurate crosses from the flanks. This has attributed to Gaitán’s Champions League, leading with five assists so far this season.
Despite a good work ethic, Gaitán doesn’t track back as often as he should to help his full back, and at only 5’8”, Gaitán does not "get stuck in" as is expected in the English game, often lacking aggression in defense.
If this deal goes through, United will have a creative attacking midfielder or winger to provide assists for United’s abundance of attacking talent. Gaitán has shown versatility in playing on both the left and right wings at Benfica, while still creating chances on both sides.
Gaitán’s arrival will signal the next stage of the rebuilding process at United as the era of Fergie’s Fledglings finally comes to a close.