Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas is still working on a deal to bring Real Madrid left-back Fabio Coentrao to White Hart Lane, whether or not Gareth Bale completes a move in the opposite direction.
Coentrao has been one of the potential makeweights linked with Spurs as part of Bale’s potential switch to the Bernabeu, but with the deal for the Welsh winger nowhere nearer completion, Villas-Boas has moved to bring the player to north London in a separate, £13m deal.
The Portuguese flyer first came to prominence in the group stages of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with some blistering runs from deep and excellent positional play at the back, as Portugal finished an unbeaten second in a group containing Brazil, Ivory Coast and North Korea, before succumbing to eventual champions Spain in the last 16.
Madrid snapped him up from Benfica in 2011, in a deal thought to be worth £27m and despite starring for Los Blancos in his first season at the club – in which Madrid won La Liga and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League – he struggled to make the left-back slot his own last time out, with Brazilian Marcelo often preferred.
Coentrao is also thought to be unhappy at being used as a bargaining chip in the high-stakes move for Bale and while new Los Merengues manager Carlo Ancelotti would like to keep him, he has admitted that the player is seeking a move.
Spurs – who are 17/10 for a top four finish this season – need defensive cover on the left, with Benoit Assou-Ekotto seemingly lacking in confidence after coming back from injury in February and in danger of losing his place to Kyle Naughton at the end of last season.
With Jan Vertonghen needed full-time at centre-half this season following the departures of Steven Caulker and William Gallas, Villas-Boas needs to continue Spurs prolific summer in the transfer market and complete a deal for fellow countryman Coentrao quickly, or they could find themselves short of quality at the back this season.