Manchester United have confirmed they have reached an agreement with Real Madrid to sign defender Raphael Varane.
It is understood the clubs have agreed an initial fee of £34m, which could rise to £42m, and that Varane, 28, has agreed terms on a four-year contract with the option for another 12 months.
United said the transfer would be completed “subject to a medical and to player terms being finalised”.
Varane, a World Cup winner with France, has made 360 appearances for Real.
“Real Madrid wants to show all its affection to Raphaal Varane and his family and wishes him good luck in this new stage of his professional career,” the club said in a statement.
“Our club thanks you for your professionalism and exemplary behaviour during the 10 seasons in which you defended our shirt.”
Varane, who has 79 caps, will become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s third signing in this transfer window – following the re-signing of goalkeeper Tom Heaton and the £73m arrival of England winger Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
BBC Sport understands Varane will quarantine before having his medical, after which he will complete his move.
United, who agreed a fee with Real on Monday, have been long-term admirers of Varane, whose contract was due to expire next summer.
Former boss Sir Alex Ferguson originally pursued a deal for the player before his move to Madrid, and Jose Mourinho was also keen to add the defender to his squad during his time at Old Trafford.
Varane’s journey to Old Trafford
After coming through Lens’ academy, Varane broke into the first team at the age of 17, and while he was unable to steer them away from relegation, his performances attracted the attention of some of Europe’s top clubs.
Despite strong interest from United, Real signed the teenager on a six-year contract in 2011, and he went on to make 15 appearances in all competitions during his first season in Spain as Mourinho’s side regained the title.
That was the start of Varane’s impressive trophy haul during his decade in the Spanish capital.
He helped Carlo Ancelotti’s side clinch their 10th European title – ‘La Decima’ – in the 2013-14 season, making seven appearances and partnering Sergio Ramos in the final as they beat Atletico Madrid 4-1 after extra time in Lisbon.
|Aerial duels||Aerial duels won||Aerial duels win rate|
|Jawad El Yamiq||71||50||70.4%|
Varane was also a key figure under compatriot Zinedine Zidane, who replaced Rafael Benitez as manager in January 2016, as Los Blancos secured a hat-trick of Champions League titles from 2016-2018.
However, a hamstring injury ruled him out of the 2016 final against Atletico and France’s European Championship campaign that summer, which ended in defeat in the final.
Having battled injuries during the 2016-17 season, Varane enjoyed arguably his strongest year in 2017-18 as Real beat Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final, before he starred for France at the 2018 World Cup, playing every minute of Les Bleus’ triumphant campaign in Russia.
Varane’s performances for club and country during 2017-18 saw him finish seventh in the Ballon d’Or rankings – the highest-placed defender – and he was named in the Uefa Team of the Year.
The centre-back has had his share of disappointments too, however, most notably in 2019-20 when his error-strewn display led to Real’s Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Manchester City.
Varane also played every minute of France’s Euro 2020 campaign, which ended with a last-16 penalty shootout defeat by Switzerland.
United have outspent rivals in Solskjaer era
Should the Varane deal be completed as expected, United will have spent just short of £400m on players since Solskjaer was appointed manager on a permanent basis in March 2019.
That eclipses the outlay of Manchester City (£298m), Chelsea (£262m), Tottenham (£255m) Arsenal (£243m) and Liverpool (£119m) in the same period, according to Transfermarkt.
Varane is the fourth defender United have brought in since conceding 54 goals during the 2018-19 Premier League season, after Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Alex Telles.
Having acquired Maguire and Wan-Bissaka in the summer of 2019, the Red Devils conceded 36 goals as they finished third in 2019-20.
They climbed a place to finish second behind Manchester City last season, letting in 44 goals, 12 more than their neighbours.
It is understood any further signings this summer are likely to depend on outgoings.
|Transfer fee||Club signed from|
|Jadon Sancho||£73m||Borussia Dortmund|
|Tom Heaton||Free||Free agent|
|Donny van de Beek||£35m||Ajax|
|Edinson Cavani||Free||Free agent|
|Bruno Fernandes||£56m||Sporting Lisbon|
|Odion Ighalo||Loan||Shanghai Shenhua|
|Aaron Wan-Bissaka||£50m||Crystal Palace|
‘Varane will bring leadership and tactical nous’ – analysis
BBC Sport’s Simon Stone
This certainly seems like an excellent deal for Manchester United.
Varane has precisely the back-story they need to bring leadership and tactical nous to their defence. The experience of starting three Champions League finals victories and a World Cup final win is invaluable in what is a relatively young United squad.
United have been able to exploit a weak transfer market – they were the only realistic option for Varane if he decided to leave Real – and the financial issues affecting all Spain’s leading clubs to come up with a deal attractive enough to entice a player of true international quality.
The big question for United now is whether they are done in the market this summer.
That may well depend on whether Paul Pogba decides to sit out the remaining year of his contract or if he would be willing to accept a lower salary that may be on offer in 12 months’ time in order to get a move to PSG.
Axel Tuanzebe seems the most likely central defender to make way for Varane, potentially on loan to Newcastle, although doubts hang over the futures of Diogo Dalot, Brandon Williams, Jesse Lingard and Phil Jones, who did not make a single appearance last season and has not been involved so far during pre-season games against Derby and QPR.
Balancing the finances is important for United. However, for the fans, they just want to see Varane in action. Coming so soon after Jadon Sancho’s move from Borussia Dortmund was confirmed, optimism around Old Trafford has not been so high for quite some time.
‘A complete player’ – what they’ve said about Varane
Real Madrid and Belgium attacker Eden Hazard: “I’ve come across some fantastic defenders during my career, such as John Terry and Vincent Kompany. I think that although [Varane] is still young, he’s already one of the best centre-backs of all time. His partnership with Sergio Ramos is wonderful.”
Former Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho in 2014: “I think Varane is the best central defender in the world. He is still young, but I think he’s the best.”
Liverpool and Netherlands defender Virgil van Dijk: “Sergio Ramos’s teammate at Real Madrid, Raphael Varane, is my favourite. He is an excellent defender and has already won a lot.”
France manager Didier Deschamps: “When he is 100% fit, he knows how to do everything. He’s very strong defensively, he is fast. He has good anticipation. He’s never in trouble on the ball. He can score goals at set-pieces. That makes him a complete player.”
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