Fabio Coentrao could be one of the first casualties of the Rafa Benitez era at Real Madrid with his former club Benfica tracking his availability.
The Portugal international’s future has been up in the air all season but the appointment of Benitez is expected to rubber-stamp the player’s departure this summer.
Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha has reported that Benfica, the Portuguese champions, are already close to agreeing a season-long loan with a view to a permanent deal with Madrid and just need the thumbs up from the player.
Coentrao joined Madrid from the Lisbon club for €30 million in 2011 and the player is understood to prefer a move back to his home country if he is surplus to requirements at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The 27-year-old has already poured cold water over a move to Sporting Lisbon, his former club’s bitter rivals, saying through his Facebook account: “I wish to deny the rumours that I’m joining Sporting. Despite the respect I have for all Portuguese clubs, the only Portuguese club I’d play for are Benfica.”
Manchester United have also been linked with Coentrao in the past but Benfica look to be the front-runners.
The defender has long played second fiddle to Marcelo and the Brazilian claimed the starting role as his own last season with arguably his best campaign at the club.