EXCLUSIVE: City plan £35m Benfica swoop
Published 23:01 17/02/12 By David McDonnell
Manchester City are ready to make a £35million bid for Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan.
The Argentina international is also on Manchester United's radar, but City are hoping to beat their local - and title - rivals to his signature by simply out-bidding them.
City officials are understood to have contacted their Benfica counterparts this week and made clear their desire to sign the 23-year-old attacking midfielder.
Gaitan is viewed as one of the most exciting and dynamic young players in the world, and impressed in Benfica's Champions League encounters with United earlier this season.
City had him watched in a recent Portuguese League Cup game against Maritimo, and football administrator Brian Marwood is understood to have begun the process of trying to formalise a deal with Benfica.
United have been keeping tabs on Gaitan for the past year and had their scouts assess him last month, having also had him watched in games against Naval and Sporting Lisbon earlier this season.
But with manager Sir Alex Ferguson understood to have been set a spending limit of around £30m to spend in the summer, Gaitan looks to be out of reach - unless he raises additional funds through player sales.
Gaitan has a release clause of around £35m written into his contract and City are said to be willing to meet that figure in order to get their man.
United may instead switch their attention to Gaitan's team-mate Javi Garcia, a more defensive-minded midfielder who also impressed in those Champions League games against the Reds.
Is Nicolas worth nicking? Check him out here: