Varane to leave Man Utd: Who could fill the gap

Raphael Varane has announced he is leaving Manchester United, after a three year stint at Old Trafford.

The 31-year-old joined from Real Madrid for £34m in 2021, and has had some great moments for the Red Devils, such as lifting the Carabao Cup  in 2023. He will leave on a free, as his contract expires this summer.

Varane, a four-time Champions League winner, will make room for a new first choice centre-back at Old Trafford, as INEOS begin the sizable task of making United competitive again.

Their search will be aided by getting Varane’s £340,000 per week wages off the books.

Varane to leave Man Utd: Old Trafford has seen the last of the France star
Varane to leave Man Utd: Old Trafford has seen the last of the France star – Photo by Icon Sport

Varane to leave Man Utd: Where has it gone wrong?

It is impossible to talk about Raphael Varane’s time at Manchester United without discussing his injury record.

The 2018 World Cup winner has missed 44 games through injury according to Transfermarkt, preventing him from building real momentum in a United shirt.

Varane, despite joining at just 28, has at times looked a player older than his years, perhaps a consequence of playing week-in, week-out at Real Madrid since his teenage years. He has also struggled with the demands of being a ball-playing centre-back.

Jarrad Branthwaite has been one of the Premier League's breakout stars and could replace Varane – Photo by Icon Sport

Varane to leave Man Utd: The replacements

Jarrad Branthwaite

United’s number one target is reportedly Jarrad Branthwaite. Some sources have even alleged that the Red Devils are already preparing a £55m bid to test Everton’s resolve.

The Toffees will likely need to sell this summer, to meet the demands of the Premier League’s PSR rules. Amadou Onana and Jordan Pickford have also been linked with moves away.

Branthwaite has been key to Everton staying up this season. He is physically dominant, difficult to beat one-on-one and has a cool composure on the ball. He would be a fine addition, but may prove very pricey.

Photo by Icon Sport

Tosin Adarabioyo

At the other end of the transfer fee spectrum, United could sign Fulham centre-back Tosin Adarabioyo for nothing, as the 26-year-old’s contract expires this summer.

Adarabioyo is a quality defender, and has attracted interest from AC Milan, Newcastle and Tottenham.

The Englishman is a product of neighbouring Manchester City’s academy, and has a similar athletic profile to Varane, as he is also blessed with pace.

Adarabioyo could allow United to invest more heavily in other problem areas.

Jean-Clair Todibo is super on the ball – Photo by Icon Sport

Jean-Clair Todibo

United are also said to be racing Tottenham for the signature of 24-year-old OGC Nice centre-back, Jean-Clair Todibo.

At the moment, Spurs offer a more stable introduction to Premier League life for any newcomers. But one way United could steal a march on Spurs is by leveraging their INEOS connection with Nice.

Perhaps most crucially of all, the French club are also owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s goliath organisation.

Todibo would be a huge improvement to United’s ability to play out from the back, as the former Barcelona man is as comfortable on the ball as any ‘number 10' further up the field.

He is no slouch off the ball either. At 6ft3in, he matches Varane’s height, but is more aggressive and front-footed in his duels.

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William Evans

William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.