'Varane failed to match the hype'

Simon Stone, chief football news reporter byline banner
Raphael Varane of Manchester United reacts during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final between Manchester United and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford
[Getty Images]

Raphael Varane was announced to Manchester United fans to some acclaim three years ago.

It was pre-match, before a 5-1 win at Leeds United, in a summer that also marked the arrival of Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo. It seemed United were ready to really push for the top.

But Varane, like United as a whole, failed to match the hype.

He clearly is a class player, but he did not look a good fit for the Premier League.

Varane is yet to start 60 league games across his three seasons and, while his partnership with Lisandro Martinez was the anchor of United's third-place finish last term, injury to both has robbed them of continuity and has played a significant role in the team's collapse.

United had already decided not to trigger the option of a one-year contract extension but, the reality is, the former Real Madrid man probably did not want to stay on either.

With a £34m fee and wages on top, United have spent about £85m on that deal. The reward has not been worth it.

While they will get no fee for Varane now, it does create a gap which will be handy in profit and sustainability terms.

In all likelihood, his replacement will probably not be a serial Champions League winner from one of the world's biggest clubs - so their salary will not be as high.