Manchester United youngster Guillermo Varela has been tipped for a very bright future in the game after impressing Real Madrid legend Zinedine Zidane whilst on loan with the Spanish giants.
The 21-year-old defender made the surprise season-long switch to the Santiago Bernabeu over the summer after failing to make a senior breakthrough during his debut season at Old Trafford.
Varela became David Moyes's first Red Devils signing after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as manager, joining the Premier League giants from Penarol for a relatively modest €1.5 million fee.
But, after finding first-team opportunities difficult to come by during his first 12 months in England, Louis van Gaal opted to make the Uruguay U20 international available for a temporary transfer in order to ascertain some regular action.
The talented right-back caught Zidane's eye on a scouting trip back in August and has gone on to make 13 appearances for Real Madrid's second string after the World Cup winner recommended his acquisition to the club's hierarchy.
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Reflecting on Varela's early contribution to the B-team - which Zidane is now full-time manager of - the former World Footballer of the Year sung the praises of the South American, explaining that he fully expects him to make a big impact at the highest level.
"I'm delighted with Guillermo Varela," he was quoted saying by Uruguayan publication Ovaciondigital. "He is very serious and professional, he has a lot of quality and I have no doubts he will make it to the top."
The news will come as a major boost to Van Gaal, who has reportedly been on the lookout for right-sided reinforcements to challenge Brazilian full-back Rafael in the future. So far this season he's deployed him, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in that position, so it's clear he's not entirely happy with the options currently available to him.
Varela is under contract with Manchester United until 2018, so his emergence could save the club some serious money if they decide to promote from within rather than re-entering the transfer market for a long-term solution next year.
Zidane's public backing of the youngster will surely give Varela more confidence moving forward, but he should seize the opportunity to continue honing his skills in Spain with a view to pushing for senior inclusion in Van Gaal's side next season.