FC Zenit have confirmed that a deal has been agreed to bring in 27-year-old Argentina central defender Ezequiel Garay from SL Benfica on a five-year contract.
Article top media content
FC Zenit have made their first summer acquisition, bringing in Argentina central defender Ezequiel Garay from SL Benfica. The 27-year-old has signed a five-year deal and will link up with his new club following the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
"I want to thank everyone who supported me during these three magnificent years at Benfica," Garay told Benfica TV. "In particular the president, who believed and invested in me, and the coach who helped me develop and reach a level to be proud of. Thanks also to all my team-mates with whom I had the honour of playing for this club.
"I want to return all the love that Benfica and the supporters gave me. I'll carry all the unforgettable moments I've had in Portugal in my heart. Gracias!"
Garay commenced his career in his homeland with CA Newell's Old Boys before moving to Spanish outfit Real Racing Club in 2005. He then earned a switch to Real Madrid CF, where he lifted the 2011 Copa del Rey, but found himself surplus to requirements.
In summer 2011, Garay joined Benfica and quickly established himself as one of the key players at the Lisbon side. He won the Portuguese treble last season with the Eagles and reached back-to-back UEFA Europa League finals, earning a place in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League squad of the season.
Zenit finished runners-up in the Russian Premier League last term and will start their UEFA Champions League campaign in the third qualifying round. Benfica begin in the group stage.