Manchester United on verge of £42.7m Raphael Varane signing after agreeing deal with Real Madrid

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Manchester United on verge of £42.7m Raphael Varane signing after agreeing deal with Real Madrid - GETTY IMAGES
Manchester United on verge of £42.7m Raphael Varane signing after agreeing deal with Real Madrid - GETTY IMAGES

Manchester United are on the verge of signing France defender Raphael Varane from Real Madrid in a significant boost to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s hopes of winning the Premier League title next season.

United have agreed to pay Real an initial £34.2 million with a further £8.5m payable in add-ons following successful talks with the Madrid giants and Varane over the past 72 hours.

The total deal will be worth around £42.7m although it is understood Real will cover the cost of a solidarity payment to Lens, Varane’s former club.

Varane, 28, is expected to sign a four-year contract with United with the option of another year and will become the club’s second major signing of the summer after Jadon Sancho, who completed a £72.9 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund last week.

The France World Cup winner is due to fly to England this week to complete the transfer although it is unclear when the medical will take place at this stage due to quarantine rules.

Conscious of how Sergio Ramos used their interest in 2015 as leverage to win a lucrative new contract with Real, United have tread cautiously in their pursuit of Varane this summer and at one stage were concerned a deal might not happen. But the weekend brought a significant breakthrough in negotiations.

Varane, who is in the final year of his contract at the Bernabeu, told Real that he did not wish to extend and wanted a fresh challenge in the Premier League with United.

United believe the Frenchman - who will partner Harry Maguire in central defence - will be a key addition in their attempts to end their eight-year wait for the league title.

Varane’s impending departure, just weeks after fellow centre half Ramos’ move to Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent, means Real are about to lose the backbone of four European Cup winning sides in the same summer.

Raphael Varane has taken part in pre-season training at Real Madrid - GETTY IMAGES
Raphael Varane has taken part in pre-season training at Real Madrid - GETTY IMAGES

United’s interest in Varane dates back a decade to Sir Alex Ferguson’s tenure when the former manager thought he had an agreement in place for then 18-year-old Lens player only for Zinedine Zidane’s intervention to swing a deal in Real’s favour in 2011.

Landing Varane and Sancho, his two leading summer transfer targets, well in advance of the new Premier League season is a huge step forward for Solskjaer, who will be under pressure to deliver silverware. United have not won a trophy for the past four seasons.

Solskjaer considers Varane to be central to his plans as he attempts to bolster central defence and, in turn, play a more attack-minded midfield.

Solskjaer favoured two midfield pivots in a lot of matches last season but hopes to operate with just one defensive midfielder in more matches next season and considers the arrival of a fast, experienced centre-back to be key to that. Axel Tuanzebe could now leave Old Trafford on loan, with Newcastle United among the clubs interested in the former England Under-21 defender.

United announced the signing of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund for £72.9m last week and the prospect of bringing in Varane in addition to the England winger would represent impressive business given the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on finances. Solskjaer hopes Sancho and Varane - should a deal go through - will significantly boost United’s chances of challenging for the Premier League title next season.

United have also been linked with Atletico Madrid right back Kieran Trippier and are sounding out midfielders but they will need to sell and trim the wage bill to continue investing heavily this summer.

Paul Pogba faces an uncertain future amid interest from Paris Saint-Germain in the France midfielder, who is in the final year of his contract at Old Trafford. There are also doubts over Jesse Lingard’s future.

Solskjaer said after Saturday’s 4-2 friendly defeat to Queens Park Rangers on Saturday that he expects to have those players who featured at the Euros and Copa America back in 10 days’ time.

Left back Alex Telles is expected to miss the start of the season after being ruled out for a few weeks after he twisted an ankle against QPR.

Rashford's shoulder injury could mean James stays put at Old Trafford

By James Ducker

Marcus Rashford’s shoulder injury could scupper attempts by Premier League clubs to sign Daniel James from Manchester United this summer.

Rashford is due to have another consultation this week before undergoing an operation to repair a torn muscle in his left shoulder that could sideline the United forward for up to 12 weeks.

His absence would rob Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of one of his key attackers and leave the United manager even more reluctant to allow the in-demand James to move permanently or on loan before the transfer window closes on Aug 31.

United announced the signing of England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund last week but, with Rashford unavailable and youngster Amad Diallo’s involvement at the start of the season potentially complicated by his involvement at the Olympics with Ivory Coast, Solskjaer does not want to limit his options out wide.

Leeds United and Brighton & Hove Albion are among the clubs interested in James. Burnley are also admirers but the Wales forward’s wages would likely put him out of the range of the Lancashire club, who face a fight to keep winger Dwight McNeil at Turf Moor this summer at a time when Sean Dyche already wants to recruit two wide players.

Leeds, Burnley and Brighton have shown interest in signing Daniel James - GETTY IMAGES
Leeds, Burnley and Brighton have shown interest in signing Daniel James - GETTY IMAGES

Rashford is due to have his shoulder assessed again this week - possibly on Tuesday - with a view to then undergoing surgery in the days that follow. The England forward suffered the injury against Arsenal on November 1 and has been managing the problem ever since.

He has been told the injury will not get any worse but he is conscious it has not improved either and the swelling causes him serious discomfort and has inhibited his movement and ability to hold up and challenge for the ball, particularly later in the games. Rashford has had pain-killing injections to help him through games.

United encouraged Rashford not to rush into a decision and Solskjaer said in the wake of their first pre-season friendly against Preston North End that they were “looking at the best options” and that the player “went away just to reflect on it a little bit”.

However, Rashford is thought to remain keen to press ahead with the surgery and return in peak condition, even if that may rule him out of action until mid October.

He may also have a foot injury assessed at the same time. Rashford has been playing with strained ligaments at the bottom of his right foot since early March.