Raphael Varane has played in all of France’s World Cup 2014 matches. It is a surprise to some given that he failed to hold down a regular starting spot at Real Madrid last season. The 21-year-old is rated highly by the likes of Jose Mourinho, Zinedine Zidane, and Didier Drogba. ‘I think he is the best young central defender in the world. Already I think he’s the best,’ said Mourinho about Varane. It is not surprising that Didier Deschamps has preferred the youngster to the partner the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Mamadou Sakho. He is one of the Champions League winners in the French squad.
France will be taking on Germany in the quarter-finals of the World Cup 2014. After three wins in the World Cup, online betting at Betfair places France as 15/2 to win the tournament. They have had to survive a few scares to reach the stage, although the same can be said of Germany as well. Ahead of this crucial encounter on Friday, France are nervous about the fitness of Varane. The 21-year-old spent a day at one of the hospitals in Brasilia, as he suffered from acute dehydration following the 2-0 win over Nigeria.
France had to defend with their backs against the wall for much of the second half and it was only towards the end that they score the goals that put them into the quarter-finals. It was hard work for the likes of Varane, but few would have expected him to suffer such dangerous levels of dehydration.
Dehydration is a major problem at the Brazil World Cup 2014. Teams especially playing their group matches in the north of the country have suffered the most. There have been suggestions that players lose as much as two litres of water when playing in temperatures as those seen in Brazil.
The scale of the problem forced FIFA to introduce cooling breaks in some of the matches. This needs to be enforced when the ambient temperature crosses 32° C, but the referee may also halt the game at any stage at his discretion. There were no such cooling breaks during the France 2-0 Nigeria match.
FIFA is to blame for the issue, as they decided to go in for 1 PM kick offs for several matches. This has been done in order to ensure maximum television viewership in European countries.
Varane is expected to be back in time for the quarter-final against Germany, but his hospitalisation certainly raises questions about FIFA’s concern for players.
A successful World Cup will significantly boost the chances of Varane staying at Real Madrid. Transfer rumours suggest that the 21-year-old could leave the Santiago Bernabeu in search of regular first-team opportunities. Betfair places him at 6/1 to win the Best Young Player Award.
He moved to Real Madrid in 2011 for a transfer fee of around £8 million. The likes of Chelsea and Manchester United are interested in him. Following the departure of David Luiz to PSG, Chelsea will want to buy a cover for their primary centre back partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill.
With Terry approaching the end of his career, Varane will also be a long-term replacement. However, Chelsea do not find themselves alone in the race to sign the former Lille defender. Manchester United are also looking at Varane’s situation at Madrid. The presence of Sergio Ramos and Pepe does not allow him to feature much in the first-team.
After losing the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, United will want to sign a top-class centre back this summer. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have had several opportunities to impress previous managers, but it is likely that they will stay at the club only because of the versatility that they offer. Johnny Evans is expected to continue at centre back, but Varane could come to partner him. Varane will be excited about playing regularly at a club like United, but he enjoys a great relationship with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
Former United captain Rio Ferdinand urged the Red Devils to sign the defender. ‘Varane…Real Madrid won’t sell though,’ said the former England international when asked about the one central defender that United should sign this summer. It is not surprising to see another top star predicting a bright future for Varane.