Spain’s big three football papers, Marca, AS and Mundo Deportivo, all lead this morning with big stories about Raphael Varane’s impending move to Manchester United.
United are believed to be closing in on the Frenchman’s signature and he has so far refused to sign a new contract with Los Blancos, with just one year remaining on his contract.
Marca, arguably the most Real Madrid-centred outlet, describe Varane as ‘still in the maze’ and believe that Chelsea have made a late bid to capture the player’s services.
‘His good performances in the national team tournament [Euro 2020], despite the early departure of Les Bleus, kept his cache in the eyes of his suitors, to whom is added Chelsea who, like PSG, seem immune to the effects of the resulting economic crisis of Covid.
‘Money is not the only thing that motivates his decisions. He is also weighing the option of expanding his horizons and trying new experiences.
‘Although the club is still clinging to the possibility that Varane will reconsider los Blancos’ offer, the truth is that he is forced to look ahead.’
Marca quotes Varane’s Transfermarkt.com’s value of €70 million (£60m) but admits that ‘the fact that he is facing the last year of his contract may reduce that figure.’
AS’s account is more reassuring for United fans. They say that ‘Varane has one foot in United’s door’ and that ‘His agreement with Manchester is done.’
‘The player had some hope that los Blancos would make a new upward renewal offer. But this movement has not existed.
‘Madrid wants €70 million, United are starting from €40 plus five for objectives. The English club plans to present its first written offer in the coming days because its agreement with the Madrid player is already complete. He will sign for five seasons.’
AS do not mention Chelsea at all.
Mundo Deportivo’s slant is slightly different again.
‘Varane has made it clear. The French footballer wants to start a new challenge in the Premier League but without disrespecting Real Madrid in the negotiations.
Mundo cites transfer guru Fabrizio Romano’s report yesterday eveningthat ‘Varane will be respectful with Real – but he’d love a Premier League experience.’
Situation clear on Varane side. He’s ready to accept Manchester United contract proposal until 2026 if the agreement between clubs with Real Madrid will be reached in the next days/weeks. ???? #MUFC
Varane will be respectful with Real – but he’d love a Premier League experience. https://t.co/ltluFh8KSW
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 17, 2021
Mundo also thinks that ‘the figure would be around 60 million euros’ and claim that Real would not seek to replace him, with Alaba and Militao as starters and Vallejo and Nacho as backup.
Another leading Spanish source, ABC, wrote last night that ‘[United] do not currently belong to the European football elite (they lost the Europa League final against Villarreal) but they do belong to the economic elite.
‘Varane, in addition, would compete in a team on the rise after years of crossing the desert and would do so in the Premier League, queen of the European leagues.
‘Madrid, faced with the dilemma, would consider selling the player for a figure close to 50 million euros.’
The Sunday Times in England have also published a story about Varane this morning, also mentioning that €50 million figure.
They claim that Real have attempted to offer Varane as a makeweight in a deal to sign Kylian Mbappe from PSG but that ‘Varane … baulked at the proposal, indicating that he did not want to return to French league football after a decade representing Real.’
The article, written by the often controversial Duncan Castles, also claims that ‘United have made approaches to a number of centre backs this summer – including an informal £39m offer for Sevilla’s Jules Koundé.’
Despite all the column inches dedicated to this transfer this morning, particularly in Spain, the upshot seems to be that nothing much has changed: personal terms and a five-year contract are agreed; there is still a slight possibility that Real will make an improved last-ditch offer to keep Varane at the Bernabeu; that they are going to ask for his market value of £60 million but may have to settle for something nearer £43 – £48m, which United will be prepared to pay.
The only spanner in the works seems to be the mention of Chelsea in Marca’s report.
With the player keen to have the issue resolved before he returns from holiday at the end of next week, it is expected that talks will begin in earnest in the next few days and that United will lodge their opening bid in the early part of next week.