Football

The rise of Guillermo Varela

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After becoming the first official signing of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, you may have forgiven Guillermo Varela for thinking it was set in stone for him to become a Manchester United regular for the years to come.

However, having spent two seasons without making an appearance for United since arriving in 2013, those that knew of the tenacious Uruguayan could have thought the young full-back's time at the Red Devils was coming to a premature end, were it not for the events that came to transpire this past week.

Unlikely Series Of Events

With United suffering from the loss of several key players to injury, Varela was seemingly called up from the 'wilderness' to take his place on the United bench for the Premier League match against West Ham two weeks ago; having been selected as part of a matchday squad for the first time since arriving at the club as ex-United boss David Moyes' first signing over two years ago.

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As half time arrived at Old Trafford and the score locked at 0-0, United manager Louis van Gaal handed Varela his first appearance for the Red Devils, coming on as a substitute for fellow academy graduate Paddy McNair.

Although the game remained 0-0 by the final whistle the Uruguayan full-back earned significant praise from Van Gaal and fans alike for his combative and full-blooded performance.

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Just three days later and Varela was able to complete a memorable week in his fledgling career as he made his first start for United in last Tuesday's Champions League group stage clash against Wolfsburg.

The youngster again, performed admirably despite losing the match 3-2 and subsequently dropping to the Europa League as a result.

Since arriving at the club, Louis van Gaal has not shied away from giving youth a chance, with the likes of Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Axel Tuanzebe among others to have been called into his matchday squads for this season alone.

However, many United fans will be curious to know why a player of obvious talent in Varela has only just been awarded his debut for the first team at the age of 22.

Humble Beginnings

Varela began his career at his hometown club Penarol, having been born in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo in 1993. He made just one appearance during his time with the 'Aurinegros' - playing the in the final weekend of the 2010-11 Uruguayan Primera Division season in a 1-0 defeat to Racing Club de Montevideo.

Despite his limited experience at club level, Varela was attracting wide attention for his exploits on the international scene with the Uruguay U-20 international team; having helped them reach the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2013, where they lost on penalties against France.

His performances during the qualification phase of the tournament earned him an initial two-week trial at Old Trafford, in which he uniquely spent all of it training with the United first team.

Having impressed hugely throughout the duration of his trial with the club, Varela signed a five-year deal for an undisclosed fee thought to be in the region of €2.8 million.

Loan To Spain

The young Uruguayan was an ever present for United's U-21 side during his first season with the club. However, found first-team opportunities hard to come by and was loaned out to Real Madrid's reserve side - Real Madrid Castilla, for the duration of the 2014-15 season.

During his stay with Castilla, Varela scored one goal in 33 appearances and was also surprisingly included in Real Madrid's Champions League squad for last season, despite his inexperience.

Varela also attracted significant praise from Castilla coach and France legend Zinedine Zidane throughout his stay in the Spanish capital.

Last season, Zidane said: "I knew there was a Uruguayan full-back at Manchester United."

"I asked to see him and loved him. Luckily we could add him to Real Madrid. I'm delighted with Guillermo Varela. He is very serious and professional. He also has a lot of quality and I have no doubts he will make it to the top."

Varela is likely to remain within the United starting line-up for the Christmas run in and potentially beyond, should he continue to impress.

Coupled with an ever growing injury list and Van Gaal's preference to give youth a chance, Guillermo Varela could finally be fulfilling the potential that a certain Scotsman saw nearly two and half years ago.

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Topics:
Premier League
Football
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney

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