United face Toon challenge over £9m relegated teen target

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Manchester United face competition from Newcastle United in the race to sign highly-rated French defender Raphael Varane.

The talented teenager has impressed in his debut Ligue 1 season, although was unable to stop Lens from being relegated following a weekend draw against Monaco.

Sir Alex Ferguson has been linked with the centre back over the past month, with Varane's value gradually growing after some imperious displays in France, although Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is now keen to bring the player to the Barclays Premier League too.

L'Sport reports that Manchester United face a challenge from across Europe, with a host of clubs on the continent eager to add the player to their ranks.

Lens' relegation is almost certain to spell the end of the 18-year-old's time at the Stade Félix Bollaert, and the player himself has admitted he's looking to speak with the hierarchy to discuss his future.

"I hope a meeting with the club will happen next week and we can discuss the situation," he is quoted as saying in the French publication.


Capped by Les Bleus at U21 level, Varane is thought to appeal to Manchester United as another young player in the mould of Chris Smalling, who has the ability to climb the ladder and become a regular over time at Old Trafford.

Whilst Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will undoubtedly remain first choice for the Red Devils, Ferguson has made a habit of bringing talent to Old Trafford with a view to players learning off the experienced heads at Manchester United.

Ferdinand's fitness also remains a concern for the Manchester United manager, and at times the club were found short in the position through injuries.

With money made available to Ferguson, Manchester United have the funds to land Varane and could look to reduce the fee given Lens' current plight.

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