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Fabio Coentrao is football’s forgotten man longing for a shot at redemption

The former Real Madrid defender failed to fulfil his potential and is now one of the most decorated free agents around

‘Contract status: Expired. Sort by: International appearances.’

Fabio Coentrao would be top of the wish list for any Football Manager player on the lookout for an experienced defender.

In reality, suitors for the Portuguese left-back, who is now a free agent, have been few and far between this summer.

‘Will do moose stuff for money’

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‘Will do moose stuff for money’

Eight years ago as Real Madrid announced the £27million signing of Coentrao – a fee that at the time made him the second-most expensive defender ever, Florentino Perez proudly paraded his latest Galatico with *that* trademark grin painted across his face.

However, it would have been wrong to suggest the president’s visible joy was merely a gimmick for the cameras.

There was genuine excitement that Los Blancos had acquired a world-class prospect and the hierarchy drew pride from knowing they had fended off a host of rival clubs to pinch the star from Benfica.

A Portuguese sandwich

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A Portuguese sandwich

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It was hoped that under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho and playing alongside countrymen Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, the defender would elevate his game to new heights in the Spanish capital.

106 appearances across five seasons for Real with a loan move to Monaco sandwiched in between, paints a picture of a player marred by injuries and inconsistency who would ultimately fail to oust Marcelo from the left-back berth at the Bernabeu.

Secret handshake

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Secret handshake

Following his acrimonious departure from Los Blancos in 2017, Coentrao has done little to prove the club’s hierarchy wrong in their decision to terminate his contract prematurely.

The frosted tips enthusiast returned to Portugal to spend the 17/18 season with Sporting, despite him previously stating that in his home country he would only ever play for Benfica.

Desperate times called for desperate measures, clearly.

Firestarter

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Firestarter

Following his sole campaign in green and white, Coentrao spent last season with Rio Ave – the club where he started his professional career back in 2005.

Despite featuring 23 times in all competitions and helping Carlos Carvalhal’s new side to a modest 7th place finish in Portugal’s top flight, the left-back failed to earn an extension to his one-year deal.

Now 31 and without a club, Coentrao finds himself marooned in footballing limbo.

His commitment to this haircut cannot be understated

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His commitment to this haircut cannot be understated

A move to PAOK looked his most likely next destination but for a last minute change of heart from the 52-time Portugal international.

It remains to be seen whether or not any other club will take a chance on Coentrao considering his injury record in recent years and lofty wage demands.

The latest whispers make Parma favourites to snap up the veteran defender with Championship side Bristol City also amusingly in the mix too.

From the Bernabeu to Ashton Gate?

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From the Bernabeu to Ashton Gate?

Sir Alex Ferguson’s borderline obsession with prizing Coentrao away from Real is something Man United fans will remember all too well.

The Scotsman’s determination to land the defender was such that he persisted with a declining Patrice Evra and the unconvincing Fabio while he worked on a deal for the defender that ultimately never came to fruition.

This is actually Rafael but just pretend it’s Fabio

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This is actually Rafael but just pretend it’s Fabio

From starting in Champions League finals to the left-back slot in every free agent XI on the internet, it’s been a steep decline for one of the most decorated Portuguese players in recent years.

His resume speaks for itself but will anyone give Coentrao a shot at redemption?