Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane ‘wants to join’ Manchester United this summer after making the decision not to sign a new contract with Los Blancos.
Varane only has one more year left on his current deal and it has been known for a while that the Frenchman, who joined Real Madrid as a teenager 10 years ago and has won three La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues, is seeking a new challenge.
Madrid were reported to have offered Varane a new contract with pay rise in May, while their desire to keep him has only increased since then after failing to agree a new contract with Sergio Ramos and being forced to let the long-serving captain go.
Club president Florentino Perez has denied personally holding talks with Varane as yet and insists that the club will look to address any potential contract renewals after Euro 2020.
But whether Perez and Real like it or not, Varane’s mind already appears to be made up. What’s more, if he refuses to sign a new contract because he wants to challenge himself elsewhere, a cash-strapped Real will have no choice but to sell him this summer unless they are prepared to lose a valuable player on a free transfer in a years’ time when his deal expires.
A recent report in Spain claimed that Varane was eyeing a move back to France, where Paris Saint-Germain would be his only realistic option. However, The Independent now writes that the 2018 World Cup winner will opt for United instead, stating that his preference is the Premier League.
United have long been tracking Sevilla’s Jules Kounde and Villarreal’s Pau Torres, but the opportunity to sign a centre-back of Varane’s reputation as a long-term partner for Harry Maguire may be good to miss. Ex-captain Gary Neville has publicly backed a pursuit more than once.
The Old Trafford club are thought to have started exploring a deal for Varane back in April after first receiving encouragement that he is prepared to leave Real.
At 28, Varane is older than the players United have typically targeted in recent summers but could still prove to be a long-term asset. The club need only look at the likes of Sergio Ramos and Thiago Silva for examples of top centre-backs playing at the highest level well into their mid-30s.
It would also give him the chance to unite with France international colleague Paul Pogba at club level and that, plus the expected arrival of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, could in turn help convince Pogba to sign a new contract of his own.
United wanted to sign Varane 10 years ago when he made the breakthrough at Lens. He chose Real Madrid at that time but United have still been linked with him more or less ever since.