Raphael Varane was one of Manchester United’s best-performing centre-backs last season, especially when partnered with Lisandro Martinez
But this season has been somewhat of a different story so far, and the Frenchman’s lack of playing time could lead to him heading for the Old Trafford exit door as soon as January.
Varane, 30, has been highly regarded by many as one of the leading centre-backs in world football, which spans from his Real Madrid days. His signing for Manchester United was seen as a bit of a coup at the time, and while injuries have caused some disruption to his time so far at Old Trafford, when he’s been available, he’s usually started. Last term, Varane being in the team, as well as the likes of Martinez, Fernandes and Rashford being on form, made them one of the favourite teams when it came to punters betting on football online.
Fast forward to the current campaign, one that Manchester United have made a stuttering start to, with their form patchy from the get-go, and Varane, when available, has struggled to find a starting berth ahead of a previously out of favour Harry Maguire and a returning Jonny Evans, much to his disappointment and the bemusement of others.
Evans, 35, re-signed for his former club in the summer after leaving related Leicester City and has surprisingly found himself ahead of World Cup winner Varane in the pecking order since. There’s some suggestion that manager Erik ten Hag prefers to deploy a resurgent Maguire as his right-sided centre-back and that he doesn’t feel Varane is the best option to play alongside him at left centre-back. Evans’ recent injury could change that in the short term, but a returning Luke Shaw could be deployed there in the coming weeks as he’s a natural left footer.
United have long been linked with moves for highly-rated centre-backs such as Jean-Clair Todibo in the past, but they instead chose to spend the money elsewhere and brought in Evans on a free transfer. However, a potential move away for Varane could generate the funds needed to sign Todibo or another elite centre-back, either in the January transfer window or in the summer.
Varane, who has racked up an impressive ninety-three caps for his country, hasn’t turned out for France since they were defeated on penalties in the World Cup Final against Argentina last December. And if he’s ever going to get back in the international reckoning, he needs to play regular first-team football at the top level, which continues to look unlikely at Manchester United in the long term.
If Varane does grow tired of warming the bench at Old Trafford and doesn’t find his way back into the starting XI consistently, he will likely have a whole host of Europe’s leading clubs vying for his signature. United would potentially demand a fee between £20 million and £30 million, which shouldn’t prove to be a stumbling block. Varane would also potentially have money-spinning offers on the table from Saudi Arabian outfits, too.