Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement in principle with Real Madrid for defender Raphael Varane.
With only 12 months remaining on his Madrid contract, Varane has been allowed to join the Red Devils.
United are reported to be paying a fee of £42.7million to secure the transfer, which is subject to a medical and terms being finalised with the player.
Having recently brought in Jadon Sancho, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is poised to add one of the world’s best defenders as United outspend their major European rivals ahead of the new season.
Varane is expected to sign a four-year deal and Solskjaer, who has cited defensive frailties as a problem throughout his tenure, fills yet another key position.
Having moved to Madrid in 2011 from Lens, Varane has a wealth of experience, winning three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns as he has racked up over 350 appearances in the Spanish capital.
In the absence of Sergio Ramos for much of last season, Varane impressed again.
The centre-back ranked second among Madrid defenders in terms of both duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga.
It was Varane’s aerial presence that really shone through at the back and his 73 successful aerial duels were more than double the tallies of his defensive colleagues.
Indeed, out of all defenders in LaLiga to contest 20 or more aerial duels, Varane’s success rate of 76 per cent was the best during the 2020-21 campaign.
That ability in the air will boost a United side lacking in that sense last term, despite Harry Maguire’s expertise. Excluding penalties, only Leeds United (15) conceded more Premier League goals from set-pieces than United’s 14.
Varane’s vast experience even beyond his Madrid exploits should aid Solskjaer’s side, too.
The defender has played 79 times for France, winning the World Cup in 2018 before playing in all four games at Euro 2020 on the way to Les Bleus’ shock last-16 exit.
Varane was the only France defender who saw action and was not dribbled past by an opponent at the Euros, showing his talent on the ground as well as in the air.
With pace to get out of trouble, Varane appears an excellent foil for Maguire as United look to improve on last campaign’s second-placed Premier League finish.
United finished 12 points behind rivals and champions Manchester City and will hope to have both Sancho and Varane available when they start their quest to bridge that gap against Leeds at Old Trafford on August 14.
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