Pepe and Raphael Varane: A recipe for disaster at Real Madrid

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If the news that Sergio Ramos is intent on leaving Real Madrid is correct, then it leaves new boss Rafael Benitez in a bit of a conundrum.

Whilst there are certainly deficiencies in Ramos' natural game that need addressing, there's little doubt that a Madrid central defence with him in it, is evidently better than when he is missing.

Were he to sign for Manchester United, it would mean a pairing of Pepe and Raphael Varane which has been shown to be not up to the mark in the past.

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Neither is a true left sided centre back so it requires one of them, probably the younger Varane, to learn new skills in order to be fit for purpose.

No time

Arguably at this point, Real don't have the time to re-train any of their first-team staff if they want to bring themselves up to the level that Barcelona have recently attained.

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That certainly seems to be the modus operandi of president Florentino Perez who won't have enjoyed seeing the Catalans go and win the treble for a second time.

It seems unlikely at this point that Benitez is in the hunt for another centre-back, but whether that is party line politics because the official word is that Ramos is not for sale, we will need to wait and see.

In any event, despite their obvious excellence as individuals, Varane and Pepe are too similar in style to be able to work together with any degree of stability and ultimately success.

Both of their natural game depends on athleticism and both are prone to mental gaffes.

Poor distribution

If we looked at a Pique-Puyol or Vidic-Ferdinand partnership as a benchmark, then you have one ball player and one physical exponent.

Pepe-Ramos or Varane-Ramos therefore works as a pairing much better.

If we look at the numbers, Pepe's distribution is poor. He may well look like the consummate defender when strolling out of defence with the football, but if you're only going to find your colleague on 72 percent of occasions then it's best you "stay home."

That would require Varane to push further forward on occasion, but he too suffers with a lowly 76 percent completion rate. Compare that to Ramos who is up in the high 80's.

Pepe also has his age going against him. Now 32 he's no spring chicken, and it's going to be harder and harder for him to keep up with the demands of top-level combat.

Burn out

Varane might well have to take on more responsibility to cover for those shortcomings but the young Frenchman can't be the man for all seasons. Too much pressure on his shoulders and burnout is a certainty.

Indeed, his game hasn't really developed to any great extent since Jose Mourinho was in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu, which must be a concern for Benitez.

Of 99 games that Varane has played for Madrid, 18 have been as substitute. Of the remaining 81, only this past season have the majority of his appearances been for the full 90 minutes.

Ramos should be kept at all costs because Real just don't have a workable plan in the meantime.

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La Liga
Real Madrid
Raphael Varane

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