It’s 2021 and Raphael Varane is finally a Manchester United player, but he could have been rocking up at Old Trafford ten years earlier if Sir Alex Ferguson had his way.
Back in 2011, Varane was just emerging as arguably the top young defender on the planet at the time, and he was eventually snapped up by Real Madrid, who paid around £8m to land the Frenchman from Lens.
His move to Real came as somewhat of a surprise as it was United who had been more proactive in their pursuit of Varane, with some reports at the time going as far as to suggest a deal was done, and Varane has now revealed that Ferguson himself travelled to France to try and finalise the signing.
“There had been a lot of rumours and a lot of people speaking about me and Manchester United since 2011, when Sir Alex Ferguson came to my mother’s house,” he told the club’s official website. “When it was real [this year], that was when I spoke with my club, and I felt it was a real opportunity to play in the Premier League for Manchester United.”
Varane was eventually swayed by Zinedine Zidane, leaving United to sign another highly-rated youngster, Phil Jones, for a cool £16m – a move which didn’t exactly go to plan.
It may have taken ten years, but Varane is finally a United player, and he confessed that he was delighted to be making the move to Old Trafford after all this time.
“I’m very happy and very excited to start this new journey for me,” he continued. “It was a very good adventure with my old club, but now it’s a new start for me and I’m very happy to be here.
“I think it was a good moment because of a lot of things, but I think the most important one is it’s a new challenge and it’s a big motivation to start in a new league in a big club like Manchester United. This opportunity was amazing for me, so I chose this change for me and my family. They have come with me. You feel when things are a good moment and this was the right moment.
“It was very important for me to know exactly about the philosophy and what the challenges and objectives are, and the ambitions – that was very important for me. And I feel a real determination and an ambition to work very hard and to try to do everything that is possible to win trophies. That motivates me.”
Varane also opened up on his relationship with fellow Frenchman Paul Pogba, with whom he has tasted plenty of success on the international scene and is keen to replicate that at club level.
“I think Paul is very positive and he has a very good energy; he motivates players in the dressing room and on the pitch with his energy,” he continued. “We are different but we are very complementary, and it’s important in the team to have different types of leaders and characters.
“I’m very happy. I’ve known him for a very long time, we started together with the French national team and he’s a great player. I think he’s ambitious and me too, so we are ready to work hard and to do all we can to win trophies.”