Connect in the back of the net

According to reports, Benfica winger Nicolas Gaitan is in negotiations for a possible move to the Premier League side this summer.

The 27-year-old Argentine, who knows Angel di María very well from the national side has been linked with Manchester United on numerous occasions since 2012. Gaitan’s representative Jose Irribaren has stated: “Everything is possible, there is a deal with Manchester United. The will of the player is that everything goes well.”

If the deal for Nicolas Gaitan goes through, he would become Manchester United’s fifth signing of the summer after sealing deals with Depay, Darmian, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger.


A capable, exciting player

Gaitan possesses many qualities such as the ability to play with both feet, ball control in tight spaces and an array of silky skills. Gaitan joining United would seem like a weird transfer on the surface. Despite his noticeable talents, Manchester United has already signed a gifted winger in Depay for a transfer fee of £25 million pounds.

Also, the Red Devils have already got plenty of squad depth in that position – with Di Maria, Juan Mata and Ashley Young all able to play in his position. So if he does sign for the club, it would consequently mean he has to be prepared to fight for a place in the starting line-up, which could prove to be difficult for him with fierce competition for places.

Di María had an average debut season in the Premier League; he started off well, but picked up a few injuries during the course of the season. Also, he had a big personal scare when his family’s house was robbed earlier on in the campaign, which seemed to have resulted in a loss of form and confidence.

The talented winger has been linked with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich and Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain this summer, so it could possibly mean that Gaitan may be in-fact replacing Di María, as unlikely as it seems.

Nicolas Gaitan had an impressive campaign for Benfica last season. In the Portuguese Primeira Liga, he played 27 matches netting four goals and notching up an impressive 15 assists. Gaitan’s main position is on the left wing, but he can also play on the right-hand side and in a more advanced attacking midfield role.

Since his move from Boca Juniors, Gaitan has consistently recorded double figures with The Eagles in the league stamping his reputation as one of Europe’s best wingers.


What could he bring to the table?

Gaitan can bring in many benefits to the style of Manchester United’s play. For instance he can bring fluid football into Manchester United’s game, Gaitan linking up with the likes of Angel Di María and Juan Mata in a possible 4-2-3-1 formation. Although he normally plays on the wide in the game, allowing him to play in the CAM role will let him play to the best of his abilities which include superb ball control and top notch through balls.

One of the problems the club faced last year was very limited creativity and sending too many long balls up to Marouane Fellaini, which only paid off a couple of times.

One big weakness to Gaitan’s game is him not tracking back. In Louis van Gaal’s game plan, he expects every player – regardless of their position – to cover their defensive duties well. This has been shown on many occasions with Juan Mata and Ashley Young working until the last second of the game, especially when the team lose the ball in the middle of the pitch.

So if this part of his game does not improve, it’d be unlikely that van Gaal would start him – risking being hit on the counter attack with not enough players back defending for the team.

Gaitan currently has a contract with the Portuguese giants until the summer of 2018, and has a buy-out clause of €35 million euros (£25 m) which should not be a fee that would deter Manchester United.

A question does remain for Manchester United fans, would they be happy if Nicolas Gaitan signs for the club possibly as a replacement for Di María or in a more supporting role?


Written by Asif Norat

Follow Asif on Twitter @FutbolAsif

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