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Arsenal and Liverpool enter race for Real Madrid’s Fabio Coentrao

Premier League top four rivals Arsenal (odds-on at 2/5 with Coral) and Liverpool (6/1) have joined Manchester United in targeting Portugal and Real Madrid left back Fabio Coentrao.

Tabloid reports claim that both the Gunners and Brendan Rodgers’ Reds have been alerted to 26-year-old Coentrao’s availability with the asking price reportedly around £25m.

Defence has been an issue for both Arsene Wenger and the Anfield outfit this season, but an attack-minded full back is perhaps not an immediate priority in the minds of analysts and pundits for either team.

United’s interest in Coentrao goes back 18 months to the summer of 2013. First David Moyes and now Louis van Gaal are short of natural options for the flanks of defence. Capturing the 47-times capped international would give cover for Luke Shaw and free Ashley Young up as an option to play in his natural position further forward.

The Red Devils almost drafted Coentrao in on loan on transfer deadline day in August of last year, but the paperwork did not come through in time. Since then, the player has been a peripheral figure at the Bernabeu with Brazilian counterpart Marcelo and Los Blancos academy product Nacho Fernandez ahead of him in Carlo Ancelotti’s pecking order.

Coentrao, who burst on the scene at Benfica and made his reputation at the 2010 World Cup, has played 90 minutes just three times for Real this season, making just 10 appearances in total across all competitions.

While Arsenal appear well-stocked at left back with both Kieran Gibbs and Nacho Monreal fit again, Rodgers may need an upgrade on his current options. Jose Enrique is on the fringe of things, while fellow Spaniard, and £12m summer signing from Sevilla, Alberto Moreno has been dropped for recent matches following a poor display in the 3-0 defeat at Old Trafford.

Liverpool have been using Lazar Markovic, normally a winger, and star attacker Raheem Sterling as makeshift left wing backs in their last two outings, but it has not enhanced their poor defensive record.

As Coentrao is understood to command a high fee, other elite clubs will be after him, with Serie A giants AC Milan among those rumoured to be interested.

Premier League leaders Chelsea, coached by Coentrao’s compatriot Jose Mourinho, and London rivals Tottenham (7/1 for a top four finish) held previous apparent interest, but have since signed Filipe Luis and Ben Davies for their respective left back berths.