Garay has been a longstanding target of Manchester United and was on the verge of joining the Red Devils before David Moyes replaced Sir Alex Ferguson as boss.

It was thought that United would rekindle their interest in the 27-year-old in January with doubts over the long-term future of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

But it seems that Zenit have beaten United to the punch with reports in Portugal suggested a £35m double deal that also includes former Bolton striker Rodrigo is already in place.

Benfica's difficult financial situation means they have little option but to part with Garay to the highest bidder.