Talking Tactics: Real deal Varane proving a bargain for United
Let’s talk about a fascinating football player I like specially, RAPHAEL VARANE.
The deal Manchester United struck to bring Raphael Varane to Old Trafford is already looking like one of the bargains of the summer.
The former Real Madrid star was part of a £120million transfer splurge but the Red
Devils only had to part with £34m to secure his services.
Ahead of tonight’s Carabao Cup clash with West Ham, we take a look at why Varane appears to be the missing piece in Ole Gunnar Solskjae’s defense.
Many of United’s other defensive signings have been highly rated before joining the club but not necessarily the finished product.
Varane, on the other hand, is approaching the peak years for a defender — where physical attributes combine with the experience of playing top-level football for over a decade.
Among his long list of honors, the 28-year-old has won three league titles and four Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, as well as a World Cup with France.
He has brought a winning mentality to a team that needs to start challenging at the top level again, both at home and in Europe.
Though it is early days to be comparing defensive records with and without Varane, United are tighter at the back with him in the team when compared to last season.
So far in the 2021-22 campaign, they have conceded an average 0.8 goals per 90 minutes, compared to 1.16 last time out.
Despite only keeping one clean sheet in the Premier League this term, in the trip to Wolves, they are yet to concede more than one goal in any league game.
Varane was on the pitch when 10-man United conceded twice in the second half against Young Boys in the Champions League, so there is obviously still work to do as a team in terms of defensive solidity and organization.
That picture will become clearer as the season progresses and the club’s new-look back line knits together over time.
While some managers play down expectations when new signings arrive, Solskjaer did the opposite with Varane.
Speaking soon after the Frenchman’s arrival, he said: “Everything about him is class.
Everything about him is what you want. He’s been humble, he’s been inquisitive. He asks questions.
“He doesn’t want to learn by a mistake in the game, he wants to learn it on the training field before he comes on the pitch.
Everything about him has been impressive’ Solskjaer has compared the impact of the defender’s arrival to that of Cristiano Ronaldo. He added: “re getting the spine of the team and you can see the experience and quality.
“With Raphael and Cristiano coming in, they add that last, not last bit, you can never say it’s the last bit, it’s something extra we have to buy unless you won [the Champions League] four times yourself.”
A partnership at last
Like neighbors Manchester City, United have had a patchy record when it comes to signing central defenders in recent years.
It is safe to say that despite looking the part at times, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof have not worked out as the club and its supporters will have hoped.
But like City, they have also hit the jackpot on a couple of occasions.
Harry Maguire, who cost £80m, has become an essential cog at the heart of defense, captaining the side and becoming a nailed on starter.
And Varane is similarly reliable. Strong, assured, quick, and technically sound, he should be an ideal partner for the Englishman going forward.
There is now no doubt as to who United’s first-choice Centre backs are, and that they are of title-winning quality.