As Manchester United chase Raphael Varane, their best course of action might be to give Rio Ferdinand a call.
According to the Manchester Evening News, the Real Madrid defender idolised Ferdinand as a youngster.
Not only that, but Varane reportedly was a boyhood Manchester United fan.
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So quite how United failed to sign the 23-year-old when they were linked in 2011 is a mystery. The newspaper claims they preferred Varane to Phil Jones but ended up paying Blackburn Rovers £16 million for Jones, a decision that appears costlier as each season passes.
The Frenchman is on United’s radar, and his current predicament at Real Madrid makes a move away possible.
He has been used in rotation with Sergio Ramos and Pepe this season but a sign of Zinedine Zidane’s preference towards the long-time Madrid defenders is both starting in both legs of Los Blancos’ Champions League quarter-final and semi-final ties.
And, according to Mundo Deportivo, the Madrid boss is keen on signing Atletico Madrid centre-back Jose Maria Gimenez this summer.
Having joined Real in 2011, many would have expected Varane to be a first-team regular by now. The hype surrounding the former Lens man is immense and even Ferdinand has high expectations.
“You are getting a player for ten years,” the former England defender said in 2014. “John Stones and Raphael Varane are the best in the world."
Jose Mourinho brought Varane to the Spanish capital and will reportedly use that connection to lure him to Manchester United should he succeed Louis van Gaal.
And Zidane is aware that Mourinho could attempt a reunion in Manchester.
“Of course, it is normal Mourinho would want to sign Raphael,” Zidane said in February, per the Daily Mail. “He knows him well, he brought him here to the club.”
But will the World Cup winner be willing to let that happen? Definitely not.
“He is the future of the club,” he added.
Desperate for a centre-back
Regardless of if it’s Varane or not, the Red Devils could certainly do with signing a centre-back in the summer.
Chris Smalling has emerged to become a decent player but behind him, the options aren’t all that appealing.
If Jones’s recent performances for the Under-21s are anything to go by, it’ll be a while before he is ready to play for the senior team as he recovers from injury.
Smalling was partnered by the inconsistent Marcos Rojo in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Norwich, with Paddy McNair on the bench.
If United fail to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League, they can wave goodbye to any hopes of landing Varane.