Real Madrid’s centre-back options are often overshadowed by BBC - the acronym given to the attacking trio of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo - but it’s worth thinking about just how impressive Zinedine Zidane’s options at the heart of defence are.
Sergio Ramos is the leader and the man responsible for so many memorable last-gasp moments; Pepe was enjoying a fine season before he broke his ribs in April; and Raphael Varane is one of the most highly-rated defenders in Europe.
Varane is the reason why Pepe’s injury wasn’t considered so detrimental to Madrid’s hopes of the winning the La Liga title and the Champions League.
And, if Pepe has played his final game for Los Blancos, Varane will be a worthy replacement in the starting line-up for next season and beyond.
Strong in the air and with pace to burn, the Frenchman is a typical modern-day centre-back that all managers are seeking.
Varane snubbed Mourinho in 2016
Indeed, the Frenchman snubbed Jose Mourinho last summer. The Manchester United boss, who brought Varane to Madrid in 2011, was keen on a reunion, but Varane wasn’t interested.
"It was flattering to hear of United's interest,” Varane said at the time, via Goal. “Mourinho is the one who made me come to Real Madrid and they are a great club.
“But at the moment the club [Madrid] and I are in sync and I had no questions to ask.
"I always said that I felt good in Madrid. It's not easy to say no to Jose Mourinho, but you have to weigh the pros and cons.”
Varane's tackle on Fabregas in 2013
Mourinho witnessed one of Varane’s best moments in a Real shirt. It came in the Clasico in 2013 as Real took on Barcelona in the semi-final of the Copa del Rey.
Madrid were reeling, down a goal to nil, when Cesc Fabregas was put through on goal.
Now, Fabregas isn’t the fastest player in the world but even he couldn’t have thought anyone would get to him.
But Varane used his incredible speed to chase Fabregas down before producing a perfectly-timed tackle to deny the Spaniard a shot.
Check it out below.
Video: Varane's amazing tackle on Fabregas
Things got better for Varane. He scored the equaliser shortly afterwards and scored again in the return leg as Real booked their place in the final.
The 24-year-old couldn’t repeat his heroics in the final, though, as Real fell 2-1 to rivals Atletico Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Can Raphael Varane become the best centre-back in the world? Let us know in the comments section below!
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