Why Man United are leading the race to sign this Real Madird outcast

When Fabio Coentrao first made his La Liga debut back in 2011, it seemed that Real Madrid had found themselves a very solid left-back who was likely to become a firm fan favourite with the Bernabeu faithful.

Now at the back end of 2014 however, three years after the golden haired Portuguese defender made the switch to Madrid, Fabio Coentrao has become somewhat of an outcast in the Spanish capital. He has seen his game time largely restricted to a place on the bench thanks to Real Madrid’s preference to start Marcelo over the former Benfica man.

As Coentrao is now 26-years-old, a move to one of Europe’s other top clubs would now likely be the best option for the pacy left-back. So then, amidst all the rumours that continue to make the rounds during the transfer season, just where will this potential January bargain eventually end up?

Fabio Coentrao first burst onto the European scene after an impressive spell with Primeira Liga giants Benfica. Within the same side that boasted the likes of David Luiz, Ramires and Angel Di Maria, Coentrao particularly shone as an attacking wing-back who also had the ability to play in midfield.

The Real Madrid No.5 also had a great World Cup campaign in 2010 with the Portuguese national side, but with his subsequent drop down the pecking order at the Bernabeu, the 2014 finals in Brazil proved a frustrating period for Coentrao.

Now that the January transfer window has cropped up again in the European footballing calendar, the Madrid left-back may finally have the chance to end his current spell as a mere bench warmer.

In that regard, Louis van Gaal and Manchester United have so far been the front runners in the race to sign Fabio Coentrao. Although the summer signing of Luke Shaw was believed to have ended all speculation linking the Red Devils with Madrid’s out of favour full-back, the resulting injury to the Shaw has seemingly resurrected van Gaal’s interest. Fabio Coentrao could in-fact be the perfect wing-back to deploy in United’s current system, which at the moment is being filled by the more make shift style full-backs in the shape of Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young.

Whilst a move to United would therefore seemingly suit Coentrao, Arsenal and Liverpool have also been linked with bringing the Portuguese favourite to the Premier League. The Gunners could definitely benefit from his services, as Coentrao’s potential arrival at the Emirates would certainly ease the burden on young Hector Bellerin, but it is ultimately hard to see Wenger doing such business when a centre-back and defensive midfielder would take higher priority status for the Arsenal boss.

A move to Liverpool would be even more surprising however, as both Alberto Moreno and Javi Manquillo were signed in the summer to feature as key full-backs at Anfield this season. In their current crisis though, perhaps a move for Fabio Coentrao wouldn’t seem completely out of the picture.

The one aspect holding back Coentrao’s potential move away from Madrid seems to be his price tag. Sides, such as Tottenham Hotspur, have been seemingly put-off by his lofty transfer fee which is rumoured to be around £25 million. Spending that much on a mere bench warmer who is likely to be short of match fitness would seem silly, but ultimately not the kind of deal the Premier League hasn’t seen before.

A move back to his native Portugal may in-fact become the most likely outcome for Fabio Coentrao, with former club Benfica likely to be the favourites in obtaining his signature. Whilst this option seems the most straight forward path to take, rumours linking Coentrao with a high profile move to the Premier League continue to surface and do the rounds on the ever-moving transfer scene.