Benfica have lost yet another huge talent in Fábio Coentrão, who's just departed the Estadio da Luz for the Santiago Bernabeu, with Real Madrid paying a reported fee of €30M for the pleasure. Coentrão represents the fourth major piece from Benfica's glorious 2009/10 run to be moved on, but with the amount of money coming in, you can see why the Primeira Liga club would acquiesce to the deal.
What's less obvious is why Madrid would bring him on board. As Gabe Lezra of SB Nation's (new!) Real Madrid blog, Managing Madrid, notes, Los Blancos already boast an immensely competent left back in Brazil's Marcelo, and Jose Mourinho will have to do some juggling to accommodate both in the lineup. This makes spending so much for Coentrão more than a little confusing:
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.
That's the long and short of it, really. Coentrão is an excellent player, and he makes the squad better - there's no doubt about that. Still, unless there's some sort of grand plan here, Madrid don't appear to be addressing their weaknesses in a particularly efficient or coherent way.