Manchester United, even though they are deep in talks to sign Raphael Varane, are also presently looking at potential alternatives as the two clubs have failed to agree on a transfer value for the Frenchman so far. According to reports, United placed a bid of £50m for the French international, but Real Madrid rejected the offer who value the player at around £80 million. In addition, PSG are reportedly interested in signing the player as well, according to the Spanish outlet El Confidencial, striking up a competition with the Red Devils and further dimming their prospects of signing the World Cup winner.
Solskjaer is focused on buying several targets to strengthen the squad this summer, as they aim to win the Premier League in the coming season. As such, Ole would not be willing to spend too much of the transfer budget on a single player.
Furthermore, United are hesitant to spend big money on Varane because he may be a free agent next summer owing to his refusal to renew his present contract with Real Madrid. Keeping this in mind, given below are three alternatives to Raphael Varane for Manchester United to consider that this summer which could hopefully strengthen the backline and form a sturdy partnership with Harry Maguire.
Pau Torres (Villarreal)
The Villarreal and Spain centre-back has become a sensation the past season. Several clubs including Real Madrid are keeping a close eye on the player. Pau Torres played a vital role for Villarreal in winning the Europa League, featuring in the final match as well, where they beat Manchester United. Torres is currently representing the Spanish national team in the Euro 2020.
The 24-year old defender stands tall at 6-foot-3-inches and physically dominates in his position. He appeared in 33/38 LaLiga games last season, winning 65% of his tackles and 63% of his duels. Torres is very comfortable with the ball and can read the game well; he had a pass accuracy of 88% last season.
Pau Torres was already on Ole’s wish list and was one of the primary alternatives if United missed out on Raphael Varane. The Spaniard would be an excellent defensive partner for Maguire and would provide United with the consistent defensive performance that they are currently lacking. Moreover, he would also be a cheaper alternative to the French defender.
However, according to Sport, Villarreal would let the player go only if interested parties pay the player’s £56million buyout clause. Even so, he is still a better option, given that Varane would be more expensive and wants a higher wage. Also, the Spanish defender is just 24 and still to reach his prime, whereas Varane is 28-years-old and has shown signs of sinking in form.
Sven Botman (LOSC Lille)
Sven Botman has been in outstanding form ever since signing for LOSC Lille at the start of the 2020-2021 campaign. The Dutch defender turned 21 this year and has shown remarkable growth potential. Botman played a crucial part in Lille’s Ligue 1 title victory, beating the French giants and defending champion, Paris Saint-Germain.
Botman stands at 6-foot-4-inches and played an impressive 37/38 games in Ligue1 last season. With a success rate of 68% in tackles and a pass accuracy of 87%, he would prove to be a solid defensive partner for Maguire. The Dutch centre-back makes up for his lack of experience as compared to Varane with his excellent leadership skills and confidence with the ball. He can organise the defence and carry out effective distribution of the ball.
“Sven Botman at Lille will almost certainly be sold this summer because Lille badly need to raise cash, and he has been outstanding for them in his debut season in French football.”
“United, I’m told, have been working, and making contacts with Botman’s agents to explore the possibility. So he is on the list too.”
Jules Kounde (Sevilla)
Jules Kounde is another noteworthy alternative for Manchester United to consider. The 22-year-old French defender has been in superb form this season, with reports suggesting that several top clubs are keeping tabs on the player. Kounde is also part of the French national squad for the current Euro 2020.
The Sevilla defender is 5-feet-10-inches (178cm) tall and appeared in 34/38 league games for the Spanish side last season. He won 55.6% of his duels and secured an amazing 90% pass accuracy, even scoring two goals and provided an assist.
Jules Kounde is quick and agile and excellent in one-vs-one situations. He is also strong in the air, making him a complete defender. His defensive traits are ideal for Manchester United, who have shown a lack of solidarity and tackling ability at the back. Kounde is valued at around £54-£56million (€63-€65million), but the Red Devils could get him for a lower fee.
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