Manchester United appear to be closing in on their top central defensive transfer target this summer, with an agreement over personal terms close with Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane; United can then concentrate on agreeing a fee with Real
Monday 19 July 2021 11:59, UK
Manchester United are close to agreeing personal terms with the representatives of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane.
Once a final agreement is reached, it is hoped United will be able to quickly negotiate a fee with Real and add the France international to their squad.
United, however, remain cautious but hopeful a deal can be struck before the end of the summer transfer window.
It is thought Varane would welcome the move, with the 28-year-old's contract up next summer.
Real risk losing him for nothing if they do not sell in this transfer window.
Varane would be another significant statement of intent to compete with Manchester City for the Premier League title next season, having established himself as one of the world's best defenders since joining Real from French side Lens in the summer of 2011.
He has gone on to make over 350 appearances for the club, and be capped 79 times by France, helping them to World Cup glory in 2018 and starting all four of their matches at Euro 2020 before they were knocked out Switzerland.
Sky Sports' Jack Wilkinson:
Let's face it, despite undoubtedly improving as a defensive pair throughout last season, Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are yet to give off the air of confidence and authority to suggest they will be the centre-back pairing that sends Manchester United back into title contention.
Rightly or wrongly, Lindelof has always been viewed as the weak link in the partnership, while Eric Bailly has been out of the conversation completely. Sourcing an upgrade to sit alongside Maguire has been earmarked as an area of improvement for United and in Raphael Varane, they may just have found what they're looking for.
But the prospect of establishing a back four of Varane and Maguire at centre-back, with Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in the full-back positions, would undoubtedly represent a step up in quality.
Maguire has proven for club and country he has the leadership qualities and technical ability to shoulder expectation, with the pace and experience of Varane in tow, United would have their strongest defensive line-up since they last won the title.
United We Stand magazine editor Andy Mitten:
"United are wary, they don't want to be played like they felt they were with Sergio Ramos a few years ago, where his representatives came to the club and said Sergio would love to play for Manchester United. United did all the legal work, they took him and his representatives at their word.
"And when push came to shove, Florentino Perez said to Sergio Ramos, we want you to stay, here's your new contract, and he accepted. United don't want to be called a team who get played all the time by others, so there is some caution there.
"But their finances have changed a little bit, Real Madrid and Barcelona have got well documented financial issues, whereas in the Premier League, the biggest clubs can still buy the best players."
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