Man United could have themselves a Raphael Varane problem…
Last summer, I was absolutely buzzing when Manchester United signed Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.
The Frenchman was everything the Red Devils needed in a centre-back. At least on paper anyway…
Varane, a serial winner at Real Madrid and a top-class defender, was brought in to transform an inconsistent United defence and make the Reds a little bit tougher back there.
Sadly, that didn’t happen for a variety of reasons…
Perhaps the biggest obstacle placed in front of Varane was his treatment table woes. It was evident from the first few weeks that the 29-year-old was never 100% fit throughout 2021/22.
The Frenchman picked up niggling injuries galore that totally disrupted and derailed his whole season. Varane was always fighting a losing battle fitness-wise and eventually, it just proved to be a hurdle he wasn’t able to overcome.
Sadly, he’s already picked up a minor injury in this pre-season. I really hope his brittleness isn’t the start of things to come…
The Lisandro Martinez factor
Obviously, United haven’t spent nigh-on £50million for Martinez to come and sit on the bench.
I get it. Erik ten Hag has made a point of consistently stating that there is no fixed starting line-up and he wants a huge squad. However, the Argentine Martinez is someone that United’s new Dutch boss trusts wholeheartedly.
There’s a bond with Martinez that Ten Hag is yet to form with Varane. At least in the early stages of their professional relationship, Varane’s going to be behind his new teammate in the pecking order.
Harry Maguire wears the captain’s armband for United. More often than not, your captain is someone who starts games with regularity. For what it’s worth, I reckon the Englishman is well-placed to enjoy an excellent 2022/23 season from a personal standpoint.
The 29-year-old feels well-suited to how Ten Hag likes to play, while he’s absolutely been given a new lease of life. The confidence that keeping the armband will bring cannot be understated, either.
Right now, that leaves Varane as the third-choice centre-back at best. An argument can be made for Victor Lindelof showing better form than the Frenchman last term, too…
The quality of teammates
I actually rate Maguire, though Varane suffered from a real quality drop in terms of his teammates. He went from Sergio Ramos and Marcelo to Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Obviously, that’s going to have an effect on your game.
Varane no longer has the luxury of some of the best players in the world in their position, playing for a Real Madrid side who were winning the Champions League every other year.
Premier League toughness
At the time of joining, Varane stated the lure of playing in the toughest division in the world was always going to be too good to turn down.
Unlike in Spain, there is absolutely no weekends off in England. Every single time you take to the field, you’re coming up against high-level footballers. Maintaining that focus, commitment and drive for 90 minutes multiple times a week is impossible for anyone.
You could see it in Rapha, towards the end of the season, he was suffering with that mental fatigue and making uncharacteristic mistakes.
When you weigh it all up, I really do believe Varane could be in for another rollercoaster of a campaign this time around. I hope I’m proven wrong, but I have to admit I’m slightly concerned about how this one will play out…
Do you think Raphael Varane will be a regular starter in 2022/23? Let us know your thoughts in the comment box below.
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