With better timing and more forward-planning, Manchester United may have added Real Madrid left-back Fabio Coentrao to their squad last summer.
Instead, the mooted loan move fell through, and as you would expect, the possibility of resurrecting it this January soon generated a headline or ten.
The mixed messages continue, with some reports claiming United are close to agreeing a deal and others suggesting Real coach Carlo Ancelotti has no intention of parting with the Portuguese just yet.
And that latter suggestion has been backed up by Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, which claims doubts over the fitness and form of first-choice left-back Marcelo could see the Brazilian lose his place to the reported United target, or more specifically to allow a little positional-change.
“Ancelotti is keen to recover Coentrao to embarrass Marcelo,” the report states. “The Italian has publicly acknowledged that he would have the Portuguese to rotate on the right side. The reality is that he is not happy with the performance of Marcelo, so will occasionally place Arbeloa at left-back.”
Marcelo has made 21 appearances this season, including 13 in La Liga, and he has seven assists in all competitions.
Alvaro Arbeloa is a regular feature on the opposite flank but he is able to play anywhere across the back-line if required.
Now back from injury, Coentrao could cover either full-back position if Ancelotti really is concerned at the form of Marcelo; although he could simply play the Portuguese in his more natural position and keep the former Liverpool man where he is.
For now it remains just another form of speculation in a month crammed with it. But if there really are doubts about Marcelo’s form, the continued presence of Coentrao may be exactly what Ancelotti needs to ensure it improves.
image: © Jan S0L0