Liverpool Transfer Rumors: Fabio Coentrao Fee Reportedly Agreed

Neri Stein@neristeinFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2011

Liverpool Transfer Rumors: Fabio Coentrao Fee Reportedly Agreed

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    LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 28:  Fabio Coentrao of Benfica controls the ball during the Portuguese Liga match between Benfica and Vitoria Setubal at Luz Stadium on August 28, 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Patricia de Melo/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Depending on what reports you read, Fabio Coentrao has reportedly agreed a fee with either Liverpool or Real Madrid. The fee for the Benefic and Portuguese left back is around £25 million, but given the problems Liverpool have had at left back in recent years, it may be worth it.

    Coentrao has also been closely followed by Chelsea and Bayern Munich, among other top European clubs this past season. 

    The Reds have been chasing the 23-year-old since late last year, and Kenny Dalglish has made the left back position a priority signing this offseason after signing strikers Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez in January.

    Let's take a look at what Coentrao would add to Liverpool or what would happen if he decides to stay a little closer to home.  

What Coentrao Adds on the Pitch

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    DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25:  Fabio Coentrao of Portugal  in action during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Portugal and Brazil at Durban Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Durban, South Africa.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Fabio Coentrao is a left back. That's enough. That's a position Liverpool has struggled with since John Aren Riise left in 2008, and even with him, it wasn't the strongest spot on the pitch.

    Coentrao is quick, moves well with the ball and despite not scoring a huge number of goals himself, provides a decent amount of assists with dangerous crosses. He also has a powerful outside shot, and he is not someone you want to give any space to. 

    He's versatile as well, because he was originally used as a left winger for Benfica and was switched to a fullback, which is where his talents really shone the past two seasons.

    He's eager to get forward and be part of the attack, which could leave the defense exposed, but not if King Kenny is playing with three central defenders and pushing his two fullbacks farther forward.

    The left-hand side is Liverpool's weaker side, so there's no doubt that Coentrao, playing as a true left back or in a more forward role, would help the team and especially the forwards Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez by providing more crosses from the midfield area.  

How He Fits in Off the Pitch

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    DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 25: Luis Fabiano of Brazil is challenged by Raul Meireles (L) and Fabio Coentrao (R) of Portugal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group G match between Portugal and Brazil at Durban Stadium on June 25, 2010 in Durban
    Lars Baron/Getty Images

    Liverpool signed Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles from Porto last summer, and though it took him five months, he has become a fan favorite around Anfield. Meireles has grown to love the city of Liverpool, and that could be a big help in luring Coentrao away from Real Madrid's lucrative offer.

    Liverpool cannot offer any European football next season, while Madrid can offer the Champions League the chance to play with Cristiano Ronaldo and the chance to work under Jose Mourinho. Liverpool, meanwhile, is certainly a famous club on its way back to the top, but it's a bit of a harder sell. 

    Liverpool's Brazilian players can also help sell the club to Coentrao. Lucas Leiva has become an adopted son of the city despite being considered a very mediocre player just a couple years ago. 

    The attitude at the club, from the manager down and among the fans, is a very good one. Despite losing the last two games of the season, Liverpool fans and players couldn't be more optimistic about next season. That's the kind of environment you want to play in. 

    Kenny is also known as a fantastic man manager and will know how to get the best out of Coentrao. 

How Would Liverpool Look With Him in the Squad?

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    LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 28:  Benfica's midfielder Fabio Coentrao controls the ball during the Portuguese Liga match between Benfica and Vitoria Setubal at Luz Stadium on August 28, 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Patricia de Melo/EuroFootball/Getty
    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    In some of his first games back in charge, Kenny Dalglish opted to go with three central defenders and to use his fullbacks in a more forward position, thereby also pushing his midfielders forward as well. 

    Attacking football was not something Liverpool saw much of under Roy Hodgson or Rafa Benitez in the end. 

    Kenny opted to use local lad Martin Kelly on the right and England's first-choice right back Glen Johnson on the left. Injuries to Kelly, center back Daniel Agger and sadly, but not surprisingly, Fabio Aurelio forced Kenny to revert to a typical four-man backline for the final few months of the season.

    Kelly's height and defensive skills also mean he is a very capable central defender, which means if healthy, he could cover for the also oft-injured Agger alongside Jamie Carragher (who can't play every game much longer) and Martin Skrtel. This leaves Glen Johnson on the right with Coentrao balancing the side out on the left, giving the Reds a very attack-minded and attractive team.

    As previously noted, both Johnson and Coentrao can play as wingers, but Liverpool's backup left back is the young, very young Jack Robinson, so it's unlikely he'll see a whole lot of time unless there's an injury or he performs superbly.  

    While Johnson is at times criticized for going forward too often and leaving too much space at the back, Coentrao is quicker, so it is harder to catch him out of position. Since Johnson and Coentrao have similar styles of play, they balance the team out very well, give Liverpool some much-needed width and take away the notion of a weaker side.  

Where Do the Reds Go If Coentrao Opts for Real Madrid?

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    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 15:  Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish applauds the home fans following the final whistle during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on May 15, 2011 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    As I said earlier, Liverpool is clearly a club on the rise, but compared to Real Madrid (or elsewhere), it's not the easiest sell right now. One advantage the Reds do have, though, is that you're not under the same pressure on Merseyside as at the Bernabeu. 

    Of course, Liverpool is a famous club, and you have to perform your best every game, but Real Madrid has to beat Barcelona right now, or else every single player (save Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas) and the coach are in liable to lose their jobs.

    Liverpool may not have European football on the table, but they have stability, finally. That counts for something. 

    Benfica's price tag is also quite a steep one for such a young player, unproven in the biggest leagues. Liverpool has the money to spend, but new owners John Henry and Fenway Sports Group should still spend smartly. Otherwise, you end up looking like other clubs who are judged to have simply tried to buy their big club status.

    Left back is obviously a big need for the Reds, and some other players who have been linked are Everton's Leighton Baines (which would be worth it just as a slap in the face to Everton), Celtic's Emilio Izaguirre and Newcastle's Jose Enrique.

    Enrique is the most likely, because he has been linked to the Reds for as long as Coentrao has, and Newcastle manager Alan Pardew has all but conceded that the left back won't be with the Magpies next season, with Liverpool supposedly his first choice.

    Liverpool needs a new left back, and there are plenty of quality candidates out there, whether Fabio Coentrao decides to bring his talents to Merseyside or if Liverpool are left to expend other options.