Manchester United are in danger of losing defender Raphael Varane as a free agent in the summer of 2024, with his contract set to expire a year earlier than the club originally publicised.
Varane was the surprise inclusion in Erik ten Hag’s starting XI to face Bayern Munich on Tuesday night.
The last time the Frenchman started a game for United was on October 24, during his side’s 1-0 win against FC Copenhagen.
In recent games, it was clear Varane had fallen down the pecking order, with Ten Hag preferring the likes of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Jonny Evans and even Luke Shaw ahead of the former Real Madrid man.
Ten Hag repeatedly indicated that Varane’s exclusion was down to tactical reasons and the pair had not fallen out.
Despite United losing to the Bundesliga champions and being dumped out of Europe, Varane was solid. He formed a good partnership with both Maguire before he went off injured and Evans who came on to replace the England international.
During Varane’s apparent exile from the starting XI, he was linked to multiple clubs including RC Lens, Bayern and Marseille.
There was even interest from the Saudi Pro League.
According to The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell, United may have to make a decision on the 30-year-old’s future sooner rather than later or they could lose him for nothing in a few month’s time.
“The terms of Varane’s contract are such that his current deal with the club expires at the end of this season, with the option of an additional year.”
“When Varane joined from Real Madrid in August 2021 United stated he had signed paperwork “keeping him at the club until June 2025” and during the defender’s recent absence from Erik ten Hag’s team there has been a perception the club could sell him at the end of this season if desired.”
“However, discussions about his future will need to occur sooner than that with the 30-year-old able to talk to foreign clubs in January. According to regulations, players entering the final six months of their deals can talk to non-British clubs and sign a pre-contract agreement. In Varane’s case, any move would be subject to the additional year elapsing without being activated.”
Whitwell explains that the additional year on a player’s contract is usually triggered either based on making a set number of appearances or, when such a clause does not exist, the club simply makes a decision based on performances.
When contacted for comment by The Athletic, United refused to comment.