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The Conundrum Of Fabio Coentrao’s Future At Real Madrid

by Alejandro Gonzalez
Jan 08, 2014 8:22 PM EST



Real Madrid renewed Fabio Coentrao’s contract a few weeks ago, extending his relationship with Los Merengues one more year and including a pay raise for the Portuguese international. Diario As has reported the defender will now earn almost €3 million. Until now he was making €2 million a year. 

Coentrao’s contract renewal has surprised many, especially after Los Merengues made an effort to sell him last summer--he was about to join Manchester United before the deal collapsed at the 11th hour. The Portuguese had even asked Carlo Ancelotti to leave Real Madrid

Furthermore, the 25-year-old has been constantly linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu in the winter transfer market, with the Red Devils, Tottenham Hotspur and Juventus, among others, interested in signing him. 

But did Coentrao really deserve this pay hike and a new deal? 

Analyzing his role in the team, it could be argued there is no point in paying such a high salary to a player who barely plays. With Marcelo guaranteed as the starting left back, Coentrao only features when the Brazilian is injured or needs to rest. In his first season at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Portuguese only started 12 La Liga games, playing sometimes as a central midfielder, while last year Marcelo’s injuries allowed him to play 16 times in the domestic Spanish league. 

Coentrao is arguably one of the best left-backs in the world, otherwise United wouldn’t have considered a €23 million offer for him last summer. However, with a world-class star like Marcelo in the squad, he’s resigned to warm the bench in most of the games.

The club directors might have wanted to secure the services of two of the best left backs in the squad, rather than letting Coentrao leave and sign a lower profile player, such as Napoli’s Camilo Zuñiga, Sevilla’s Alberto Moreno or Benfica’s Guilherme Siqueira. Maybe their motivation is to obtain more profit in a possible sale. Or perhaps they just wanted to show Coentrao their confidence on him after the Portuguese had asked to leave last summer but was forced to stay. 

Whatever their reasons are, for many Real Madrid fans, it makes no sense to improve the contract of a player who will spend most of the season on the bench and who will surely ask for a transfer next summer--some reports say he’s already asked for a move in the winter market. His performances, especially last season and in the current campaign, have been acceptable. But there are lots of players, including Real Madrid home-grown products such as Nacho Fernandez and Jorge Casado, who could play the role of Marcelo’s substitute in a satisfactory way. Even Alvaro Arbeloa has performed decently when playing at left back. 

Coentrao cost Real €30 million, and although Los Blancos will never recover that whole amount, his sale could be a good piece of business for the club. Replacing him wouldn’t be a problem, and raising his salary is seen by many Bernabeu fans as another of Florentino Perez’s unnecessary expenditures. Whether they are right or wrong, only time will tell.