Chelsea and Manchester City are reportedly on alert over the possible availability of Real Madrid left back Fabio Coentrao. The Metro reports the 24-year-old Portuguese international has fallen out with the administration at the Santiago Bernabeu and is being pushed for a January transfer.
Coentrao transferred to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2011 and although initial performances were excellent, his relationship with manager Jose Mourinho has deteriorated recently. Matters came to a head when he was reportedly late for training after the winter break and is expected to be severely punished. The Portuguese has started only six league games this season.
Madrid have been linked with a £33m bid for Gareth Bale in recent weeks and should the Tottenham winger join former team mate Luka Modric in Madrid, the transfer of Coentrao will free up squad space and finances for Bale's arrival.
European champions Chelsea appear to be most likely to sign Coentrao, particularly with first choice left back Ashley Cole having turned 32 and in the final few months of his contract. The England international and the Stamford Bridge club have yet to agree an extension and Cole has been linked with a move away from west London.
Roman Abramovich does have youngster Ryan Bertand but the Blues' youth product has been sparingly used since Roberto Di Matteo's sacking earlier in the season and is unlikely to be a long-term solution for the left back position.
Incidentally, Chelsea have also been linked with Marcelo. The Daily Star's report believes the 24 year old Brazilian, Real Madrid's first choice left back, will be sold to cover the costs of recruiting Bale. The Blues have also been linked to Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain.
Meanwhile, champions City have French and Serbian international Gael Clichy and Aleksandr Kolarov on the left of their defence. However, the Etihad club does appear to be unstable at the back and manager Roberto Mancini may look favourably on the idea of shuffling his options, particularly with reports Serie A champions Juventus are targeting the Serbian defender.
Marin on Premier League Start
Finally, Chelsea's summer signing, Marko Marin, has admitted his pleasure at his first ever Premier League start. The 23 year old German international signed on for the Blues in the summer but a combination of injuries and excellent form by the trio of Oscar, Juan Mata and Eden Hazard has meant very little game time for the former Werder Bremen playmaker.
However, he finally made a first team start when the Blues faced QPR at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. Benitez opted for Marin as part of his squad rotation strategy but it was a forgettable debut for the German; Chelsea were beaten 1-0.
"I was happy to start but the result makes the debut a bad one for me. Everybody wants to win and we had to do better in the first half I think. The beginning of the second was okay and we had some chances but then they got the goal. We are not happy to lose this game after a few good results and to lose against QPR is not good," Marin told the club's Web site after the match.