Real Madrid

Fabio Coentrão set for Lisbon return with Sporting or Benfica

The Real Madrid defender has barely played this season and is likely to leave in the summer with the Primeira Liga giants keen on snapping him up.

Fabio Coentrao.

Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrão, 29, could be set for a return to the Primeira Liga in the summer with both his former club Benfica and city rivals Sporting interested in signing him.

Portuguese media including O Jogo and Jornal de Noticias concurred on Sunday that Coentrão’s former coach at Benfica, Jorge Jesús, who is now in the dugout at Sporting, is interested in bringing the player back to Lisbon. However, similar reports state that Benfica are considering a move to re-sign the Portugal international, with Coentrão always confessing himself to be a firm “benfiquista.”

Coentrão's circular early career

Coentrão started out at Rio Ave and moved to Benfica in 2008, being loaned out immediately to Zaragoza. He did not fare well there under José Antonio Camacho and was sent back to Benfica, and from there back to Rio Ave on loan.

In 2009-10 Jesús placed his faith in the left back and Coentrão shone for two consecutive seasons, leading Real Madrid to sign him for 30 million euros when José Mourinho was in charge with a reputation as one of the best left backs in the world.

Capped 51 times by Portugal, Coentrão was a key member of the Décima-winning side under Carlo Ancelotti, playing in both the semi-finals against Bayern and the final against Atlético with Marcelo relegated to the bench.

Monaco loan

However, Coentrão still failed to convince the Bernabéu of his worth and was sent on loan to Monaco for the 2015-16 season, where he started the season promisingly but fell out of favour after a string of injuries that eventually led to him missing out on the Portugal squad for their victorious Euro 2016 campaign.

This season Zinedine Zidane decided to hand Coentrão a chance to prove himself but injuries have again curtailed his involvement and he has managed only four appearances all season.

Benfica and Sporting interest

Coentrão’s contract runs until 2019 and both Benfica and Sporting will have to stump up a fee for the defender, although that is likely to be considerably lower than Real’s outlay in 2011. For his part, Coentrão is willing to take a pay cut to move to a club where he can expect a starting place in order to try and fight his way back into the Portugal set-up.