The Premier League season is just a month away. Preparations for the new season will now ramp up, following the end of Euro 2020 and the Copa America. Although there has been transfer activity going on in the background, it will increase now club football is the focus once again. Manchester United have already signed Jadon Sancho, but their supporters will want to see reinforcements in defence and central midfield.
Raphael Varane has been one of the best centre backs in Europe over the last five years. The Frenchman has the World Cup and multiple Champions Leagues to his name. Sky Sports report that Manchester United have been given permission to speak with him over a move to Old Trafford. A fee has yet to be agreed with Real Madrid, but this suggests that a move is a real possibility. PSG are another possible destination for the defender.
Real Madrid have financial issues, which is why they were one of the main protagonists in the mooted European Super League. Varane has just one year left on his contract and the Spanish club won’t want the defender to run his contract down.
Manchester United will want to sign a centre-back to partner Harry Maguire. Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof are both solid defenders, but neither has managed to lock down the right-sided centre-back position in the United back four.
It is difficult to quantify Varane’s quality using stats, especially as he has been playing in a Real Madrid team that dominates the majority of the matches they play in. In possession, he is very effective and is able to launch attacks from deep. He is an equally impressive passer or carrier of the ball, which gives him a dual threat with the ball. This is similar to Maguire.
In recent seasons, United have been reliant on Maguire to be the ball-player in their defence. If they manage to sign Varene, they will be more balanced and be able to build attacks down either side of the pitch. Last season, the Frenchman averaged 2.44 progressive passes and 3.15 progressive carries, ranking better than average for a centre back.
At the European Championships, Varane was playing in a possession-oriented team. The 28-year-old averaged 69 passes per game, with a pass completion of 94.2%. It was a small sample size, but it underlines how he rarely gives the ball away. His decision making in possession has improved with experience and he would be an excellent partner for Maguire.
One of the key reasons why Varane would be an excellent addition for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is his winning mentality. He has won a lot of major trophies in his career. Manchester United have yet to lift a trophy under the Norwegian and there have been poor performances when they get to the latter stages of the competition. The performance against Villarreal in the Europa League final was particularly disappointing.
Solskjaer will hope that adding players with trophy winning experience will benefit the squad as a whole. It will also be a major statement of intent, as Varane is considered as one of the best defenders in the world. At the age of 28, he should be reaching his peak years.
Manchester United have been burned by targeting Real Madrid players before. They have tried to sign Sergio Ramos in the past, only for the defender to sign a new contract with the La Liga giants. They will want to avoid a similar ending to this pursuit of a Real Madrid centre-back.
There are some doubts regarding Varane’s performances in the last 12 months, but he remains one of the best in the world. If Manchester United manage to sign him, it will be a major coup.