It looks like we'll be linked to Portugal and Portuguese talent a lot this summer. Up until last week, we were knee-deep in Mangala rumours, and today, shortly after Lazar Markovic's loan to Benfica was confirmed, it would appear our attentions have turned to another defender plying his trade there.
According to Portuguese outlet O Jogo, it appears the Blues have set their sights on Benfica's own Ezequiel Garay, himself coming off the back of a breakout season with the Portuguese giants. While the Chelsea fan base had been somewhat busier feting Jose Mourinho ahead of his formal arrival and press conference, unbeknownst to us, it would seem far away, the Portuguese side were preparing to receive a few bids for their young star.
According to the source, Manchester United and Real Madrid too have cast glances toward the Argentina international, and as such, bids are said to be on their way. With a reported release clause standing at a very gettable €20M, it's hard to imagine there'd be much resistance from the club or indeed, a lengthy ordeal with the transfer were one of the bigger fish to display some urgency and maybe come up with an early offer.
As a prospect, I wouldn't much mind the club pursuing him. He's a big, imposing figure, very much in the mould of John Terry, and great strength, size, and a distinct lack of pace mean he bears a rather remarkable resemblance as a physical specimen to the Chelsea captain. Caveats? For a CB, (and unlike Terry) he's a rather shy tackler.
While the price quoted is refreshingly lower than what we come to hear for most prospects linked to us nowadays, I'm not too stoked, since Garay is 26, and for a few million more, we could target much younger prospects with a potentially far higher ceiling.
Still, if the club is serious and considers him the best option to shore up the defence at present, we should have no problems hammering out a deal, for I don't really see the likes of Real coming into the frame — they simply don't need to. If not, well, good luck wondering whether the Markovic loan had an ulterior motive attached after all.