Real Madrid Sign Fabio Coentrão...Marcelo's Replacement?

BRAGA, PORTUGAL - MAY 04: Fabio Coentrao of Benfica holds a news conference at Estadio Municipal de Braga the day before the UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg match between Braga and Benfica on May 4, 2011 in Braga, Portugal. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Well, the rumors were true. Fabio Coentrão, the 23-year-old fullback from Benfica signed with Real Madrid this afternoon in the "white house" overlooking the Castellana. The operation is rumored to have cost los blancos around €30 million, though this price could come down if Benfica agree to purchase the rights to Ezekiel Garay for €10 million.

The 23 year-old Portuguese left back signed for six years, and began his first press conference as a member of Real Madrid by saying,

Every footballer's dream is to play for Real Madrid. When I was a child I wanted to, I imagined myself playing for this team--it was always my objective. It's a dream come true. Now, I hope to achieve a continuous spot in the starting lineup, and prove to everyone that I am prepared to play here.

"But Gabe," you must be asking yourself, "I thought Madrid already had a world-class left back--Marcelo! What about him?" What a smart question! Let's talk about it after the jump.

I'm of two minds when it comes to this signing: one one hand, I feel like position battles are bad for team chemistry, especially when they're between young, talented players who both want playing time. It could end up being a disaster in the dressing room for los blancos.

At the same time, I feel like Mourinho wouldn't have pushed so hard for this signing if he didn't have a plan--whether that means figuring out how to play both of them at the same time (can Marcelo play on the right? Can we move Sergio Ramos to CB?), or letting them duke it out for supremacy in a controlled manner. I trust him to know how to deal with the players he wants.

And the real truth is that Coentrão is a very, very good player. He's an offensive threat while simultaneously being a defensive stopper; plus, he's only 23, which means he has tons of upside. 

Plus, he's apparently excited to battle with Marcelo: 

We'll compete each week for a spot in the starting 11, and because of that, the team will win, which is the most important thing.

Well, Fabio, with that mentality you'll go far on this team. Welcome to Real Madrid.

All quotations are translations courtesy of yours truly. If you're interested in writing for Managing Madrid, shoot us an email at!

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