Transfer news: Manchester United cool on signing Real Madrid's smoking, work-shy Fabio Coentrao

The wing-back has not played for more than two months because of a thigh injury sustained on international duty for Portugal

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The Independent Football

The Manchester United manager, David Moyes, appears to have doubts over whether to sign Real Madrid's Fabio Coentrao. The Portuguese wing-back has started only four games since the Scot tried to secure him on loan last summer and is the source of increasing scepticism in Spain.

Real Madrid do appear to be willing to release Coentrao and the player's agent, Jorge Mendes, is using his strong United connections to push for the move. But Real coach Carlo Ancelotti's pessimism about such a deal taking place reflects the doubts of the United manager.

Coentrao has not played for more than two months because of a thigh injury sustained on international duty for Portugal against Sweden. Moyes denied that Mendes' presence in Manchester on Tuesday night meant a deal was imminent, though the player is understood to be as keen as Real for him to move to Old Trafford.

Ancelotti said that "hopefully he [Coentrao] will be back playing next week. No one is going out and no one is coming in. We have a very good squad." By the time United came in for Coentrao on transfer-deadline day in the summer, when Everton refused to sell Leighton Baines, his designated replacement – Granada's Guilherme Siqueira – had left on loan for Benfica, leaving the Spaniards unwilling to leave themselves short.

But Coentrao was not used by Ancelotti until late September and the injury has subsequently limited his season to five weeks.

The decision of Jose Mourinho, who is also represented by Mendes, to pay Benfica €30m (£24.8m) for Coentrao ranks as one of the oddest during his period at the Bernabeu, given that the player's spell on loan from Benfica at Real Zaragoza in 2008 was unsuccessful.

The left–sided player has a reputation in Spain for not being one of the best trainers and was briefly dropped by Mourinho last season after being caught smoking in public.


Moyes' doubts about Coentrao – who is a utility player rather than an outstanding defender or wide attacker – seem to be sound, rather than a manifestation of the indecision for which he is often characterised. Despite a Capital One Cup semi-final defeat at Sunderland taking their losing run to three games, the situation remains that United will not be rushed in the transfer window this month and are ready to wait until the summer to undertake the radical rebuild required.

The club's striker Danny Welbeck said in the aftermath of the 2-1 defeat on Wearside that the squad cannot "rely" on complaints about refereeing decisions to explain their failings – as both Moyes and player-coach Ryan Giggs did late on Tuesday. There are no excuses.

"We haven't had much luck in recent weeks with penalties given, and those we thought we should have had, but we can't just look at that," Welbeck said. "You cannot rely on that to help us. We have to up our game and our performances as a team. I cannot pinpoint one thing why this is happening. We were champions last season and we know that the consistency in our game has not been good enough. It is a new experience for us all but the main thing we have to do is look at the next game."

The 23-year-old, who was isolated against Sunderland, with Moyes not bringing Javier Hernandez off the bench until the 87th minute, said that supporters' concerns about United failing to make next season's Champions League were valid. "I can understand why fans are concerned. We are not around the Champions League spots at the moment. We need to get our form back and just win the next matches," he said.