Man Utd: Solskjaer hopeful on Jones return date
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When it comes to leaders, Manchester United are short. Bruno Fernandes is one, Harry Maguire another and Edinson Cavani a third. But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs more and Real Madrid star Raphael Varane, it seems, could be next to arrive.
The best Manchester United sides have had leaders aplenty.
Sir Alex Ferguson had many during his stint at Old Trafford, ranging from skippers such as Roy Keane and Nemanja Vidic to the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand and Robin van Persie.
But, in the years since the Scot walked away, the Red Devils have struggled in that department.
This United side, in footballing terms, is still in its infancy. It has one of the lowest average ages when it comes to average squads in the entirety of the Premier League.
And there’s a sense they need more if they’re to reel in Manchester City next season, with Pep Guardiola’s side champions in waiting once again.
In fairness, things have improved since Solskjaer took over.
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But while the summer signings of Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles and Edinson Cavani have helped add nous to the team, the trio aren’t guaranteed starters.
Varane, however, would be a different story.
United appear sold on the France international, who is ready to leave Real Madrid behind for a new challenge elsewhere after a successful decade in Spain.
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Varane isn’t captain at Real Madrid when Sergio Ramos is fit. When the Spain international is sidelined, however, it’s often he who takes on the armband.
When he first rocked up at the Bernabeu, rejecting Ferguson’s advances back in the summer transfer window of 2011, he was raw.
But, in the years since, the 27-year-old has established himself as one of the best centre-backs in world football.
Varane has won three La Liga titles during his stint, which is impressive given how Barcelona have dominated the Spanish top flight in recent years.
He’s also played a pivotal role in the club’s four Champions League triumphs, edging out Pepe to start them during the Portugal international’s final few years in the capital.
And, at international level, Varane has also been spectacular.
He helped France reach the Euro 2016 final five years ago, starting in the 2-1 defeat to Portugal.
But he was vital as his country made amends two years later, starring as they won the World Cup in Russia.
Varane is a player who has experienced just about everything over the course of his professional career, at both club and country level.
So if United do end up winning the race for his signature, then Solskjaer will be delighted.
It could move the Norwegian’s side one step closer to the Premier League title. Who knows, it might even be the best signing they’ve done since Ferguson walked away.
Right now, United are ticking along nicely.
But more leaders could lead to more wins and, therefore, more trophies. It’s a signing that, certainly, makes sense.
While United are happy to go after the right targets this summer, however, Solskjaer has sent a cautious message to the club’s supporters.
“[The pandemic] is definitely affecting everyone in football. Of course the lack of income, the finances have affected everyone,” he said.
“We have to be realistic and responsible in the way we do our business both on and off the pitch. There are improvements on the training ground, stadium – we have to look at the whole picture.
“Where can we spend the money? And how much is there? It’s just the real world now. It has changed.”
He then added: “You can look at it different ways [with a] rebuild. We also have players in the academy that we now can maybe give opportunities.
“All clubs in the world are going through the same situation so it’s no different for other clubs than for us. I think there’s just going to be less and less transfers happening in the world of football with all these changes.”
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