Manchester United have made an approach to Benfica for Nemanja Matic. The Observer says Benfica, aware of interest in their player, awarded him a new five-year contract in January, in part to strengthen their own position when it came to negotiating with potential buyers.

Matic has attracted United's attention at a time when Paul Scholes is giving renewed thought to retiring and Anderson's future is looking uncertain because of his inability to impose himself in United's midfield.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has not signed a central midfielder since Owen Hargreaves in 2007.