Raphaël Varane has been linked with a sensational move to Saudi Arabia, with compatriots Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kanté said to be trying to attract the defender to the Gulf State.
Al-Ittihad, the club Benzema and Kante both joined this summer, are reported to have “contacted representatives” of Varane in a bid to lure yet another superstar to the rapidly emerging Saudi Pro League.
Jota, signed from Celtic, and Fabinho, recruited from Liverpool, are two other major signings the Saudi club have completed in this window. A world-class sized hole continues to exist in Al-Ittihad’s defensive unit however.
Hence the interest in United’s Rolls Royce centre-back.
Varane is reported to be aware of the offer from the Saudi club but has rebuffed their initial advances. The Frenchman wishes to remain in European football for “at least” one more season, if not longer.
Varane’s contract with Manchester United runs until 2025, having signed a four year deal in the summer of 2021 following his blockbuster relocation from Madrid.
The centre-half only turned 30 in April and announced his retirement from international football following the Qatar World Cup. This decision was thought to be made as a means to extending his club career.
Varane is considered an integral part of the United team and an influential member of the dressing room, his experience and leadership of particular appreciation by Erik ten Hag.
Though he has struggled with injuries during his first two seasons at Old Trafford, Varane remains one of Europe’s most accomplished defenders.
United continue to be linked with a central defender this summer; firstly, to replace the increasingly untenable Harry Maguire, and, secondly, to provide better cover for the first eleven, allowing Varane to be rested as required. This is a move designed to extend his United career, rather than shorten it.
United are, therefore, planning for a future with Varane, not without. Any offer from Saudi Arabia would be expected to be met with a firm “no.” This commitment appears to be matched by the Frenchman.
Al-Ittihad will have to search elsewhere for their defensive crown jewel.