The future of Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has suddenly become a discussion point in the media, and it could be that he is set to leave Old Trafford. During a period where transfer speculation has surrounded a different central defender in Harry Maguire, it could be that the former Real Madrid man makes a shock exit from the club.
Varane has started Man Utd's opening two Premier League fixtures, including netting the winning goal in their unconvincing home victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. The French international has spent the last two years with the club, but news has filtered through that he could be the next star name to move over to Saudi Arabian football.
It has been confirmed by journalist Rudy Galetti that Varane could indeed be making the switch to the big-spending Saudi Pro League, specifically with Al Ittihad, who have expressed an interest in the 30-year-old. The club are especially keen on adding a new centre back to their roster, and believe the Lille-born player could be the perfect solution.
Al Ittihad are managed by former Tottenham Hotspur and Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espirito Santo, and already have stellar names on the squad such as Karim Benzema, Fabinho and N'Golo Kante, and with those of those being fellow Frenchman such as Varane, it could be that they play a role in potentially persuading him to consider making the move.
This is understood to be a revolving situation and things could change quickly. Varane does remain under contract at Old Trafford for a further two years, but he and the club may potentially have a decision to make should Al Ittihad go ahead with an official bid.
Although the Saudi club may indeed be searching for a new defender, it could be argued this isn't a pressing requirement based upon their start to the new league campaign. They've opened up with consecutive victories, and not conceded a goal in the process. In fact, they sit top of the table, but with finance not seemingly an issue in this part of the world, clubs will constantly be looking to add big names if at all possible.
Neymar recently became the latest household name to join a football club in Saudi Arabia, with Cristiano Ronaldo being the trailblazer when he made the switch to Al Nassr at the start of the year. Several high-profile names have since followed, including Riyad Mahrez, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Ruben Neves.
Should Varane indeed wish to make the move, it would present Man Utd with a problem with limited time remaining in this transfer window. Boss Erik ten Hag has Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his preferred central defensive pairing, with Victor Lindelof in reserve, and Harry Maguire seemingly the outsider of the pecking order. If Varane left, they may have to dip into the transfer market, and quickly.
It remains a case of watching this space over the next week or so, and much depends on if Varane is indeed interested in making the move. Whilst financially he would be heavily rewarded, would be really be prepared to leave at this stage of his career. The club are in the UEFA Champions League this season, and they ideally need him in their team when that begins.