Fabio Coentrao has recently been quoted as saying that it would be an "honour to play for Manchester United" and all the signs point to a summer exit for the former Benfica man who has been dogged by injuries and stiff competition from fellow left-back Marcelo since arriving at the Santiago Bernabéu in 2011. With interest in his signature from multiple clubs around the world and a first-team place unlikely to be his in the foreseeable future due to the aforementioned Marcelo's form, it would be naive to think that Real Madrid's board were not considering potential replacements. So whom are the ideal candidates to replace the Portugese full-back?
David Alaba of Bayern Munich fame has built a reputation of being one of the world's premier left-backs in recent years and is an integral part of Bayern manager Pep Guardiola's team. He is extremely versatile as he is capable of playing anywhere on the left hand side of the pitch as well as in central defence and central midfield. Furthermore, he possesses a potent set-piece threat as he often takes free-kicks and penalties for Bayern with unerring accuracy. The Austrian is reported by Marca among others to be seriously considering his options at the end of the season although no official transfer request has yet been made. Alaba picked up an injury during the latest round of international friendlies that could rule him out for the rest of the season so he could have already played his last game for the Bavarian club. Real Madrid are a massive club but so too are Bayern Munich and therefore a move to Madrid could be seen by some as normal and by others puzzling. If Alaba were to make the switch then you'd have to expect Madrid to pay a hefty sum, roughly in the region of €40 million but I think the likelihood of seeing Alaba in white next season is low.
José Luis Gayà
Jose Luis Gayà is a wanted man. Ever since Real Madrid made their interest of the young full-back known, clubs from all over the world having been keeping an eye on him. Now their are potential Premier League suitors for the Valencia player with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City all rumoured to be in the race. He has been hesitant to sign a new contract at the Mestalla, evidently aware then that there is strong interest in him from other quarters. Gayà plays in a vertical manner that is similar to former Valencia product Jordi Alba, making strong surges forward when his team are in possession of the ball to offer an offensive outlet. Yet he is probably even better defensively than he is going forward as his technical skills of retrieving possession remain resolute. If Madrid were to acquire him you could expect him to cost in the region of €20 million as that is what his buy-out clause is rumoured to be. I believe that Gayà is the frontrunner to replace Coentrao in Madrid and that fans can be reasonably confident of seeing him training at Valdebebas next season.
Willems has been on world football's radar ever since he shone through in Euro 2012 at the tender age of 18 with his energetic but controlled performances. However, a transfer from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven has never materialised thus far for the talented youngster and this season he's been proving his worth in the Eredivisie linking up well with fellow prospect Memphis Depay. Together they are the league's top assister and scorer respectively. Willems would be an intriguing purchase if Madrid were to go for him during the summer. He's a superb crosser of the ball and likes to cut inside his opposing marker just like a winger when attacking but his defence has always been inconsistent by comparison. This season he's improved the defensive side of his game but there's still flaws that can be exploited occasionally. I think he needs to move to a better league in order to be able to reach the next level of his development and being the back-up left-back Madrid could just be the platform to do that. One would expect him to come reasonably cheaply but it's not very likely that he will with PSV reportedly in negotiations with him for a new contract.
The young Swiss left-back has been plying his trade at Wolfsburg for a few seasons now and to great acclaim. He is already one of the best in his position in the world and it comes as no surprise that both Chelsea and Manchester United have been rumoured to be keeping tabs on him. Rodríguez possesses a decent yet not excellent defensive game but where he really excels in his offensive output. He dribbles like a winger and his vision is brilliant as his deliveries from wide positions often lead to goals for the Bundesliga outfit. Not only does he provide plenty of assists but he also scores a fair amount himself. This season he's already scored 7 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions. Rodríguez would be the perfect addition to this Real Madrid squad but, like Alaba, it is not certain that he would be the back-up due to his quality. Madrid would have to expect Rodríguez to cost roughly in the region of €40 million due to his having recently signed a new contract in January that keeps him at Wolfsburg until 2019 plus the fact that Wolfsburg don't need to sell their best players for money at the moment. Therefore it is unlikely that we'll see Rodríguez playing for Los Blancos next season.