For all of their defensive woes, one criticism no fan or pundit can have of Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United is that they concede silly goals.
With a potential Champions League place still up for grabs, Manchester United currently have the second best defence in the league, conceding only 31 goals in the process. And yet question marks still arise about the personnel in United’s back four and more pertinently how impressive David de Gea has been for the third season in a row.
No one can doubt the improvement in Chris Smalling this season who will be a certain starter this year in France for England. Daley Blind as well as seemingly adapted nicely into a deeper role in the central of defence, a position that is a key component of van Gaal’s philosophy – the ability to be able to play out of the back and have a defender who is almost a quarter back’s quarter back (if that makes sense!).
With van Gaal’s future far from certain as José Mourinho still waits in the wings, lingering like some managerial reaper, any rumour involving Manchester United can hardly be concrete with so many if’s and but’s going into the next season but one player that is supposedly catching the eye of the Manchester United hierarchy and Mourinho is Raphael Varane.
L’Equipe reported earlier this week that Manchester United (or at the very least Mourinho) has entered the race to sign the young Frenchman to at least strengthen any United side under his guidance next season.
Whilst the signing of Varane may not come as a priority when considering how limited United seemingly are in the final third and creatively, any potential deal for Varane is surely one worth pursuing.Embed from Getty Images
When Real Madrid signed Varane from Lens in the summer of 2011 for roughly €10 million (by José Mourinho coincidently), many saw Varane as a future stalwart of the Real Madrid side with the likes of Franck LeBeouf even stating that Varane could go on to greater things than Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro. However, this season his progress has stalled, he has found himself back behind Pepe and (perhaps unsurprisingly) Sergio Ramos and now seemingly looking elsewhere for pastures new.
Will Varane become the next Ferdinand or the next Vidic? Certainly he is comfortable with the ball at his feet, he both strong and fast and seemingly as a knack of reading the game, whether that be breaking up play, positioning or last ditch tackles – Varane has the potential to become one of the best all round defenders of his generation and under the right manager is a player to build a defense around.
Any potential deal though isn’t straight forward. With Varane contracted to 2020 with Los Blancos and with Pepe and Ramos not getting any younger, Varane will certainly be seeing more and more game time over the next couple of seasons. Furthermore, Bayern Munich are circling. This season Bayern have had more defensive injuries than you can shake a stick at and with the prospect of linking up with another former coach in Carlo Ancelotti, will Varane be tempted by how competitive Bayern are right off the bat?
Rich, The Sweeper Football Blog