Cole has been linked with a surprise switch to Old Trafford this week, and AS Roma are likely to be more open to selling the former Chelsea full-back to the Red Devils in January if they can secure a deal for Portugal international Coentrao, according to the Express.
Whether Manchester United would prefer to land their hands on Cole over Coentrao is unclear, but the former may be a better option if Van Gaal is looking for a back-up left-back for Luke Shaw, rather than a new first-team regular.
Cole struggling at AS Roma
Cole has struggled at Roma since completing his move to the Stadio Olimpico as a free agent over the summer. The nadir of his spell with the Serie A outfit came last week against Bayern Munich, whose winger Arjen Robben left the 33-year-old with proverbial twisted blood.
Cole was substituted at half-time, by which point Bayern had already advanced into an unassailable 5-0 lead. The Bundesliga champions went on to humiliate their Champions League opponents by recording a 7-1 victory.
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Garcia keen to sell Cole
It seems that performance has convinced Roma boss Rudi Garcia to offload Cole in January - at least according to reports in Spain - and wants to bring 26-year-old Coentrao to the club instead.
The former Benfica star, who almost joined Manchester United in the summer of 2013, is frustrated with his lack of first-team opportunities at the Bernabeu and will consider forcing through a move in January if his situation fails to change.
And with Marcelo performing so well for the reigning European champions at the moment, it seems likely that Coentrao will spend most of his time between now and the New Year watching from the sidelines.
Cole likely to accept Man United move
The Express believe that Cole is unlikely to reject a return to the Premier League after he stated earlier this year that he has no desire to move to an inferior league, such as Major League Soccer.
"I had offers from the USA but I’m not ready to relax on a beach yet,” he told reporters. “I’ve won a lot in my career already and I don’t want to stop."