Manchester United have completed the signing of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid.
The centre-back has joined United on a four-year deal until June 2025 for a fee believed to be around £41m including add-ons.
Varane’s arrival was announced with the 28-year-old walking out in front of a packed Old Trafford crowd ahead of United’s Premier League opener against Leeds on Saturday.
Varane said: “Manchester United is one of the most iconic clubs in world football and the chance to come here and play in the Premier League is something I couldn’t turn down.
“There is a lot more that I want to achieve in my career and I know I’m joining a squad full of great players who will all have the same determination to win matches and trophies.
“Having spoken to the manager I can see how much progress has been made over the last few seasons and I now join a group ready to play at the highest level.
“I want to make an impact here and I will give everything to become part of this club’s illustrious history.”
After announcing a deal had been struck to sign the France World Cup winner on July 27, the completion of the signing was delayed due to the need for a visa, isolation and medical.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said: “I’m absolutely delighted that we have managed to secure one of the best defenders in the world over the last 10 years. Raphael is a proven winner who we have tracked over a long period of time and we know just how much of a dedicated professional he is.
“We have great depth of international defenders and he will add his immense skill set and leadership to that group. He is a unique defender with a rare combination of top-level attributes that I know will rub off on our younger players.
“He has won everything there is to win but I know that he is still determined to succeed, I can’t wait to welcome him into the squad.”
Neville’s verdict: Last piece in the jigsaw?
Gary Neville on Sky Sports News:
“It was inevitable the Jadon Sancho deal would eventually happen. They have needed to fill that right-wing spot as it has been a problem for them for the past year or two. But I think the signing of Raphael Varane is really exciting.
“The club have demonstrated patience, become a bit more measured in the last two or three years. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has brought that to the club and they’re not just getting players for the sake of it.
“I think last season, every commentator, pundit, analyst and anyone who watched United said they needed a partner for Harry Maguire. They have got one now so for me it’s going to be an improvement on last season.
“Varane is a good age, he’s got massive experience and a good centre-back alongside him and it’s a good back four. He’s not coming into a team where he’s going to have to hold it together.
“You’d argue he’s the last piece of the jigsaw in the sense that the rest of them are still doing a pretty good job. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly both did good jobs alongside Harry Maguire but they weren’t that little bit extra that you need.
“I feel Maguire will come out of [Euro 2020] with England stronger and more confident than ever. He’s got a player now alongside him whose played for Real Madrid in the biggest games you can ever play in – World Cups, the lot, so for me they have got two brilliant centre-backs.
“They just need to settle the goalkeeping situation out and decide who is going to be No 1. United would then be fine defensively and then Sancho can hopefully bring that balance in attack.”
Sky Sports’ Adam Bate:
He was the worst kept secret in European football back in 2011. A teenage defender with height and speed, skilful enough to star at the highest level. He was only 17 years old but the world’s biggest clubs were watching – much to Sir Alex Ferguson’s frustration.
The story of Manchester United’s pursuit of the young Raphael Varane has taken on greater significance one decade on from almost signing him. The defender has won one World Cup and four Champions Leagues since Ferguson jumped on that train to France.
The United legend’s recollection of events in April 2011 is that Zinedine Zidane “scooped him up from under our noses” while chief executive David Gill was going through the finer points of the contract with Lens. In Madrid, a different conversation was happening.
Jose Mourinho was coming towards the end of his first season in the job and found himself confronted with the reality of what Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona had become. The 5-0 defeat in the Nou Camp that November had been chastening. A rebuild was required.
In a meeting to discuss future plans, Zidane, working as a special adviser prior to being announced as the new sporting director that summer, declared that there was a centre-back at Lens who would become better than World Cup-winning captain Laurent Blanc. ..
Sky Sports’ Richard Morgan:
Varane racked up over 350 appearances for Real, winning 18 major honors in the process, including four Champions League and three La Liga titles.
It is that type of pedigree United are bringing to Old Trafford – someone who not only knows how to win, but also expects to.
Not just with Madrid either, but France too, who he became world champion with in 2018. In Russia, Varane played a key role off the field with his dressing-room leadership skills as well as on it, where he featured in every minute of their victorious campaign as he joined a select band of players to have won the European Cup/Champions League and World Cup in the same year.
Now it is a case of third time lucky for United, who after a decade first trying to bring him to Old Trafford, has finally got their man.
Varane – at 28 the ideal age for a defender – could prove to be the missing piece in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United jigsaw.
The graceful Frenchman is as close to the complete central defender as you will find in European football right now – pacy, calm under pressure, composed on the ball, strong in the air and a good organizer and leader at the back who also reads the game well.
Varane will line up alongside Harry Maguire at the heart of United’s defense next season in a partnership that should complement both men perfectly, while also meaning a watching brief from the bench for Victor Lindelof, who fairly or unfairly, has struggled to win over supporters since his arrival at the club in 2017.
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