It’s incredibly rare for the sports papers in both Madrid and Barcelona to agree on anything. However, over the last couple of days, both Marca and Sport seem have taken a break from claiming that their respective teams are destined to win the league and both are claiming that Garay is on his way to Barcelona in the summer.
According to both newspapers, FC Barcelona have secured the players services for next season and will pay around 5 million euros to Racing Santander for Garay now, with a further 10 miilion euros due in instalments after July. Santander president, Francisco Pernia, claims that talks have been taking place
between Racing, Fc Barcelona and the player over a number of weeks and is quoted in Marca stating: "Barcelona are interested in Ezequiel Garay and Racing are speaking with Barcelona,” adding that, “I would be surprised if he went to any team other than Barcelona in July. Barça are very well positioned and are in pole position."
La Liga Review has been deluged with e-mails from readers wondering who this bloke called Ezequiel is, and what his credentials are. Actually we’ve received just two e-mails, but it’s hard to talk about Sport and Marca without getting caught up in exaggeration and hyperbole, and like everyone else, we love a bit of transfer gossip as much as the next website. As one e-mail put it “he must be pretty good if Juventus, Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and …er…Tottenham were interested”.
Garay is a 21 year old centre half who has been instrumental in Racing Santander’s recent league success. He joined the Spanish club at the end of 2005 after impressing for his home town club Newells Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, and reportedly came to the attention of scouts after scoring the winner in a fierce local derby with Rosario Central.
His goal scoring continued at his new club in Spain where in his first full season he scored nine league goals, most from free kicks and penalties, and grabbed the headlines by scoring both of Racing’s goals in their 2-1 win over Real Madrid.
However, it is his undoubted defensive attributes that have caught the eye of Barcelona. The centre back has both strength and height (6ft2) to match a composure that is rare in a young defender and as Marcelino, his coach at Racing, acknowledges, his leadership and stature at the back seems to grow with every game. Racing achieved their second highest league placing in 50 years last season and their 10th placed finish owes much to an impressive defence, of which Garay was integral, that conceded just 48 goals in 38 matches.
Young Ezequiel's international credentials are not quite as impressive, but international pundits are certain that it will not be long before he adds to his solitary cap for Argentina. On his full international debut Garay suffered a bit of a bruising at the hands of John Carew in Norway’ s 2-1 win over the Albiceleste in Oslo last August and he was subsequently left out of the next national squad. However, Garay is well known to Argentina’s international coaches after featuring in the 2005 under 20-s World Cup final against Nigeria where he gave a characteristically commanding display.
With plenty of time to mature, the experience of moving up to the Camp Nou after playing in front of 20,000 fans a week in Santander and more big game know-how, Garay could ultimately be the long term replacement for Ayala in the Argentine national team. Whilst that may be some way off, if Marca is to be believed, he may well be about to replace Thuram at Barcelona in the not too distant future.