Manchester United emerged unscathed from what was dubbed as a potential banana skin, overcoming League One side Wigan Athletic 2-0 in the FA Cup third-round tie on Monday.
Goals from Portuguese pair — Diogo Dalot and Bruno Fernandes on either side of half-time were enough to set up a clash with either Newport County or Eastleigh in Round Four.
United managed a rare clean sheet with Jonny Evans and Raphael Varane at the heart of the defence.
There were widespread reports of the Frenchman having a fallout with manager Erik ten Hag as he did not start a game for almost two months.
Varane’s difficult season
Since his comeback into the side in December in the game against Bayern Munich, the Frenchman has started in five out of six games. But question marks still abound regarding his long-term future.
The 30-year-old’s current deal ends next summer, which effectively means he can sign a pre-agreement with any foreign club. The centre-back is unhappy with the Red Devils for not triggering his one-year extension option.
Now that INEOS are set to take charge of sporting affairs, United want to trim their wage bill and Varane is one of the highest earners. Hence, the plan is to offer him a new deal on reduced terms.
Now, TeamTalk have shockingly claimed that Real’s arch-rivals Barcelona have been offered the services of the four-time Champions League winner for a ridiculously low fee.
“He (Sancho) will likely soon be followed out the exit door by Varane, with Ratcliffe having offered the player to Barcelona for just €20m (£17m).
“It’s alleged that Ten Hag views the World Cup winner as a ‘problem player’ with Varane neither in his long-term plans and with his alleged £340,000 a week wages ‘burdening’ the club.
“It’s also reported that both Bayern Munich – despite a recent agreement to sign Eric Dier – and Varane’s former club Lens, who do apparently have the finances to sign him, both remain possible options.”
Varane and Lisandro Martinez were the United boss’ go-to players in his debut season as manager but the Frenchman’s poor injury record has meant the Dutchman has had to look for reliable cover elsewhere.
Barca shock offer
Despite his recent run of starts, Ten Hag knows he cannot trust someone with such a fragile body and the club do plan to acquire an elite centre-back in the summer.
Varane’s wages also represent another major error on the Glazers’ part who have wasted the club’s money by offering insane wages to players well past their prime.
Barcelona are unlikely to be able to afford the former France international’s wages and considering the injury woes currently at United, Ten Hag cannot afford to lose the defender in January.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe had expressed his disappointment at United wasting their money on Casemiro and his former Madrid teammate also seems to not have impressed the INEOS chairman.
Saudi Arabia also remains a viable option and it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Varane.