Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is watching Benfica defender Ezequiel Garay.

The Mirror says former Real Madrid defender Garay has been identified as a potential long-term successor to Rio Ferdinand as United boss Ferguson desperately looks for a top-class replacement.

Garay has impressed United's scouts so far, and they will now consider whether he can step up to a bigger stage, having not made the grade at the Bernabeu.

The Premier League leaders will also have to overcome a potential hurdle as there is a sell-on payment due to Real and also a third-party ownership issue, making it a complex deal.