Credit: Raphael Varane via Facebook.
After turning down a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu to join Manchester United last summer, Raphael Varane is once again being linked with the EPL side managed by his former boss, Jose Mourinho.
At the time, Varane cited the strong bond he held with current manager Zinedine Zidane as the primary reason behind his decision to stay with Real. Despite admitting that it wasn’t easy to say no to Jose Mourinho, Varane felt a sense of allegiance to Real and Zidane, who was the man largely responsible for bringing the French defender to Madrid from Lens in 2011 in his role of club advisor.
Despite being rewarded for his loyalty by featuring prominently in Real’s domestic and Champions League starting line-up this season, Varane is reportedly still firmly in the sights of Mourinho, and the appeal of playing in the Premier League may be too strong for the ambitious 23-year-old.
The France international has put a spotty 2015/16 season behind him, proving himself to be an influential figure in the heart of Real’s defence. The Lille-born center-half has been instrumental to Madrid’s success this term both in Europe, where they prepare to take on Bayern Munich in what is sure to be a tough ECL quarter-final matchup, and La Liga, where they narrowly top the table and remain 1/3 odds-on favourites amongst La Liga betting sites to triumph.
Some reports suggest that while Zidane is keen to retain the services of one of his top defenders, Madrid president Florentino Pérez may look to use Varane as leverage in his attempt to coax United keeper David de Gea away from Old Trafford. Real stopper Keylor Navas has come under heavy criticism recently following a series of blunders, and Pérez seems ready to offload the 30-year-old at the earliest opportunity – even if it means giving up one of his side’s brightest talents.
However, any and all plans may be set to go awry due to Varane’s current fitness; an injury he suffered in Madrid’s recent defeat to Valencia has kept the defender sidelined for the past six games, and he is still training separately to his Real teammates in an effort to recuperate.
The injury marks Varane’s fourth major absence in as many years, and undoubtedly calls his long-term reliability into doubt. Will Manchester United be prepared to shell out what will likely be in the region of £50-£60 million for a player susceptible to succumb to frequent injury?
In the end, however, Jose Mourinho may well consider it a risk worth taking. By their standards, his United side have had another underwhelming season; they currently lie fifth in the Premier League standings, four points outside of the Champions League qualification places. Come the summer, the Old Trafford board will undoubtedly afford their manager with another bumper transfer budget, and Mourinho may well decide Varane is the ideal candidate to lead his back line.