Manchester United have reportedly made an opening bid of £50 million for Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane.
The news around both Varane and his centre-back partner Sergio Ramos is breaking everywhere at the moment, with Ramos now officially having said goodbye to los Blancos after leaving as a free agent and Varane set to follow if a transfer fee can be agreed.
And according to both The Express and The MEN, United have made a move for the Frenchman which has already been rejected by Real.
‘United remain in dialogue with Madrid and will seek a compromise over the fee, but are reluctant to meet Madrid’s £80m valuation as Varane is out of contract next year.’
The Express tells a similar story, also without citing a source.
‘Manchester United have had an initial £50million bid for defender Raphael Varane rejected by Real Madrid, who are holding out for £80m.
‘Varane is currently playing for France at Euro 2020, but is believed to be unsettled at his club side following the departure of Zinedine Zidane as manager.’
The reports and the timing of them are curious because they come within 24 hours of news from Spain that no official bids have been lodged for the Frenchman.
‘Manchester United and PSG are the two teams that have put the most interest in Varane, although neither has yet made a firm offer to Madrid,’ AS reported yesterday evening.
‘They have limited themselves to approaching the entourage of the defender, who welcomes both destinations, although, at the moment, Paris is the favourite.
‘Madrid expects a call from the player’s agency with a proposal, but this may take time to come.’
AS’s paper edition this morning (via Sport Witness) further claims that Ramos’s departure has changed the goalposts where Varane is concerned and that los Merengues will require a ‘super offer’ to tempt them to part with him.
On the surface of it, AS’s reports seem more plausible than the story from The MEN and Express. It had previously been widely reported that Real were looking for a fee of around €70 million (£60m) for the 28-year-old, and with just a year left on the player’s contract, this seems like a much more likely asking price.
And if the asking price is really £60m and not £80m as The MEN and The Express claim, it seems unlikely that United would open the bidding so high.
The Daily Mail, meanwhile, reports that United are not interested in Ramos. They, again do not cite their source.
The flurry of sudden, bold reports from the English media today smells distinctly of PR briefings from the United end, but the motives for this are unclear. Perhaps it is to manage fans’ expectations and provide them with a false reason why United are not going to stump up the real cash – probably half that amount – for the World Cup winner.