Since making his competitive debut in a goalless draw at Racing de Santander in September 2011, Raphael Varane has slowly matured into a reliable option for Real Madrid in the central defensive area. At just 23 years old, his best years are ahead of him and he still has plenty to learn but the Frenchman looks set to feature prominently under compatriot Zinedine Zidane at the Santiago Bernabeu.
As of October 24th, the France international has already featured 11 times for Real Madrid this campaign and he has quickly emerged as Real’s brightest young talent during the Zidane era – an incredible feat when you consider the vast array of quality on their roster.
Varane has been labelled as one of the best defensive prospects on the planet for quite some time but it is positive to see the Frenchman holding his own on the big stage at such a young age. In fact, his early Madrid form has prompted some to claim that he could be the next long-term captain at the Bernabeu if he continues to inspire confidence under Zidane.
Varane has had his fair share of injury issues in recent times, but that can sometimes be expected at such a young age. However, Zidane has usually stuck by his compatriot when he has been healthy – and WhoScored’s statistics show that he has featured in all but two of Madrid’s fixtures since Zizou was appointed at the helm; a sure sign of the trust and close bond between the two Frenchmen.
With Sergio Ramos side-lined and Pepe linked with a move away from the Bernabeu at the end of the season, Varane now has the opportunity to fully cement his position as one of Real’s top defensive stars. The 23-year-old has forced his way into the side through reliable and competent defensive displays but his prowess and aerial threat in the opposing penalty box has helped Real to make the breakthrough on a number of occasions this season.
In fact, the France starlet bagged a vital goal in Madrid’s 2-2 draw with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League before netting in their 6-1 thrashing of Real Betis earlier this month. Ultimately, his unique ability of wreaking havoc at the attacking end of the field gives him the edge over some of his positional rivals.
At the time of writing, Real are currently leading the way at the top of the La Liga table and Varane will be looking to help Zidane’s side to maintain their position at the summit. According to the Bet365 La Liga odds, Madrid are 13/8 to win the title and Varane, who makes an average of 1.6 tackles, 4.1 clearances and 2.5 aerial duels every game, will be central to their chances of glory.
With an 86.7% pass success rate, his skill level is much higher than most defenders and he is able to bring the ball out of defence; a trait that suits Zidane’s attack-minded style of football. Given time and space, the Frenchman can fire even the toughest 40-yard pass across the field to change the point of attack.
Varane isn’t the complete package just yet but he is well on the way to blossoming into a top talent – and Madrid is the best place for his unique skillset. Whilst he wouldn’t necessarily be a fine fit for a Premier League side, Varane has settled at the Santiago Bernabeu and he could be set for a very successful career under fellow Frenchman Zidane.