United can repeat Raphael Varane transfer trick to fulfil Sir Alex Ferguson’s dream
Manchester United could repeat their Raphael Varane transfer story by completing a move for Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski.
The striker reportedly wants to leave the German club for a fresh challenge.
The Red Devils announced the arrival of defender Varane from Real Madrid on Saturday, just prior to their 5-1 thumping of rivals Leeds United.
The Frenchman has joined United in a bargain £35million deal. Los Blancos were keen to sell to help reduce their spending.
But it is a deal that could have been completed 10 years ago. Having just lost the Champions League final to Barcelona, legendary former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to refresh his squad.
His pursuit of young talent took him to Lille where he spoke to Varane and his parents.
The now 28-year-old had emerged as one of the world’s most highly rated teenage defenders while playing for Lens.
Ferguson thought he could complete a deal but was beaten to the signing by Real Madrid, who had asked youth coach and France hero Zinedine Zidane to take charge of negotiations.
“In 2011 I hurtled down to Lille,” Ferguson wrote in his 2015 autobiography. “Zinedine Zidane got wind of this and somehow scooped him up.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally acquired Ferguson’s former target and could do so again if he takes advantage of Lewandowski’s wish to leave Bayern.
Sky Sports have reported that the 32-year-old is seeking a fresh challenge after breaking Gerd Muller’s Bundesliga scoring record last season. He wants to play for another elite club before he turns 35.
The Bavarians are believed to want at least £100m for the player, who scored 41 league goals last term. He managed 56 in total for club and country across a stunning person campaign.
However, the Poland international’s career could have gone far differently had Ferguson had his way again in what turned out to be a frustrating summer for the Scot in 2011.
Lewandowski revealed last year that he discussed a transfer to Old Trafford with Ferguson a decade ago. He admitted that he was ‘ready’ to join the then-Champions League runners-up.
“After my first year in Dortmund, I had a conversation with Sir Alex Ferguson,” Lewandowski told France Football.
“He wanted me to come to Manchester. I was very interested. I can even say I was ready.
“But Dortmund didn’t want to let me go. It didn’t upset me more than that because things were going well with Borussia.”
United will almost certainly try to sign a new striker over the next 12 months, with Edinson Cavani offered a 12-month extension at the end of last term to see them through the 2021/22 campaign with a proven goalscorer.
Borussia Dortmund starlet Erling Haaland has been linked. A transfer is unlikely this summer due to the German club’s £150m valuation but a £64m release clause becomes active in his contract in June 2022.
A romping 5-1 win over rivals Leeds helped United start the new season perfectly and proved that they might have enough scoring quality to go the season without Haaland or Lewandowski.
Bruno Fernandes struck a hat-trick while Mason Greenwood and Fred added further goals.
Solskjaer has made just the three additions to his squad this summer, despite trying to overcome last season’s 12-point deficit between the Red Devils and Premier League champions Manchester City.
Varane has joined Jadon Sancho (£73m) and third choice goalkeeper Tom Heaton (free) in arriving at the 20-times league champions.