HomeFeatured ArticlesErik ten Hag's Centre-Back Dilemma: Varane's Role at Man Utd

Erik ten Hag’s Centre-Back Dilemma: Varane’s Role at Man Utd

Raphael Varane’s Challenging Season at Man Utd Under Erik ten Hag

Raphael Varane, at 30, is far from satisfied with his current status at Manchester United. A player of his calibre, boasting an impressive collection of four Champions League titles and a World Cup victory, as explained in this insightful article by Laurie Whitwell, expects to be more than just a peripheral figure. His recent expressions of discontent to Erik ten Hag highlight a growing frustration.

Ten Hag’s Tactical Decisions and Varane’s Role

Erik ten Hag’s preference for a different defensive setup has seen Varane often overlooked. In the upcoming fixture against Everton, it’s anticipated that Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof will again be favoured. Even Jonny Evans, before his injury, was chosen over Varane, a decision that underlines Ten Hag’s tactical considerations over player reputation.

“During Varane’s medical ahead of signing for United in August 2021, his knees were highlighted as requiring care, prompting a reevaluation of his salary. More emphasis was subsequently placed on his bonus earnings than basic wage.

United, with Ed Woodward in charge of the purse strings, still showed their intent on bringing Varane to the club by agreeing wages close to £250,000 per week ($315,000) depending on appearances. The player, who cost £34million from Real Madrid, received a rapturous response when presented to Old Trafford ahead of the opening game of the 2021-22 season against Leeds United.”

Evans, initially joining to stay fit, has found prominence, even earning a start alongside Maguire in the significant Manchester derby. This preference over Varane, who earns significantly more, speaks volumes about Ten Hag’s strategic choices. Maguire, particularly, has capitalized on his opportunities, impressing Ten Hag with his proactive defending and ability to shift play.

Varane’s Tentative Approach This Season

Observers note a cautious approach in Varane’s play this season. His once-renowned speed seems tempered, suggesting a wariness about his physical condition. This caution has led to occasional defensive gaps, impacting his effectiveness on the field.

Those close to Varane argue that regular game time is key to his form. Last season, in a consistent run, he demonstrated top-tier performance, especially alongside Lisandro Martinez. Yet, injuries have been a constant hindrance, disrupting his ability to maintain form.

Varane at United: A Financial and Physical Overview

Varane’s journey to United wasn’t without its concerns. During his medical, knee issues were flagged, leading to a salary structure more reliant on bonuses than base wage. His initial reception at Old Trafford was enthusiastic, and despite his challenges, he has maintained a high level of professionalism and connection with the fans.

However, availability has been a persistent issue. With a playing time of just 51 percent in his first two seasons, and a further dip this season, Varane faces a crucial period. His future at United is not disruptive, but continuous lack of playtime may force him to consider his options.

The Saudi Pro League has shown interest, and United might entertain significant offers. With financial fair play considerations and potential new investment from Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the club’s stance could change.

Ten Hag underlined how Varane is competing with Maguire for the spot at right-side centre-half rather than seeing them as a partnership.

“He is a very important player but there’s internal competition — there should be at a top club — and when you decide on two players who do brilliant, Rapha Varane and Harry Maguire, then you have to make a choice for that position.”

Varane’s Future Considerations

Staying in Europe, with Bayern Munich showing interest, might be more appealing to Varane. A decision is likely to be deferred until next summer, giving both Varane and Ten Hag time to assess their positions.

Ten Hag has dismissed rumours of a fallout with Varane, emphasizing the internal competition within the squad. He acknowledges Varane’s importance but also underscores the need for strategic decisions based on the team’s needs.

Conclusion: Varane’s Path Forward at Man Utd

Varane’s situation under Erik ten Hag at Manchester United is complex. His proven talent and experience are indisputable, but adapting to Ten Hag’s tactical vision and overcoming physical challenges are crucial for his future at Old Trafford. As the season progresses, Varane’s role and contributions will be closely watched by fans and pundits alike, eager to see how this talented player navigates his challenging period at one of the world’s most renowned football clubs.

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