Manchester United could land their own Virgil van Dijk in the form of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane this summer.
What’s the story?
According to Spanish outlet Marca, the 28-year-old defender could depart Los Blancos over the coming months, with a €60m (£51.5m) price tag mooted.
The report claims that Varane sees his future away from Madrid and, as he’s set to enter the final 12 months of his current contract, the club are willing to sell him in to avoid losing the World Cup winner on a free transfer.
Earlier this month, Manchester Evening News reported that United were holding talks with the Frenchman’s camp amid the uncertainly over his future in the Spanish capital.
United’s own Van Dijk
United made solid progress throughout 2020/21, recording consecutive top four finishes in the Premier League for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.
However, a group stage exit in the Champions League, a hugely disappointing defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final and a 12-point gap to Premier League champions Manchester City showcased the progress still to be made for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
One key area of weakness for the Red Devils over recent years has been at centre-back. The likes of Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe have failed to convince alongside Harry Maguire, with Wednesday’s final defeat the latest illustration of their shortcomings.
While club captain Maguire may be comfortable with the ball at his feet (87.3% passing accuracy), a dominant force in the air (wins four aerial duels per game) and a natural leader, the England international is occasionally exposed for his lack of pace.
The arrival of Varane would ensure that particular problem would be all but eradicated, and the towering Frenchman has earned significant praise from departing Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane in the past.
“He’s won a lot and shown his ability to be a leader, help others and show what he’s capable of doing out on the pitch. He deserves the two goals in the last game and the character to give us the win,” said Zidane back in February.
Another admirer of the defender is Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville, who compared Varane to Liverpool powerhouse Van Dijk in the past. The Dutchman transformed the Reds from top-four contenders to Premier League and Champions League champions almost overnight, but the ex-United man holds Varane in higher regard.
“That’s why I put Raphael Varane ahead of Virgil van Dijk. He’s won so many European Cups, a World Cup, he’s an amazing player,” revealed Neville.
United could secure their own transformative, dominant, world-class centre-back this summer in Varane, and it’s an opportunity that they can’t afford to let pass them by.