Football

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Raphael Varane has always fit the Manchester United mould

TOPSHOT - Manchester United's Raphael Varane is presented to the fans ahead of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 14, 2021. - RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Raphael Varane has always fit the mould of a classic Manchester United player prior to his decade-in-the-making arrival at Old Trafford, claims Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Ten years on from originally being scouted as a Lens youngster, the France international has finally made the move to the Red Devils, signing on a four-year deal from Real Madrid which was finally confirmed ahead of United’s 5-1 Premier League rout of Leeds last weekend.

Since 2011, when Sir Alex Ferguson came close to sealing his signature, Varane has blossomed into a World Cup-winning centre-back – but his new manager feels that his conduct on and off the field has marked him out as a United player long before he walked through the door.

“It’s no secret that we were close – or we were in there – when he left to Real Madrid 10 years ago,” Solskjaer told United’s website. “Sir Alex was in there speaking to them and we were close.

“Ever since his performances on the pitch, his demeanour and behaviour off the pitch, it tells me that that’s a Man United player. And we managed to convince him to have the feeling of Man United.

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“I think that’s been in his heart ever since he went to Real Madrid as well. I think he had a little bit of a feeling for Man United. We definitely have had feelings for him for many, many years.”

Having now been able to get up close and personal with his new recruit following his arrival last weekend, Solskjaer has had nothing but kind words to say about Varane, who claimed a dozen-and-a-half trophies during his time with Madrid, alongside the 2018 World Cup with France.

“The Champions League wins he’s had, the World Cup wins… everything about him is class,” the Norwegian added. “He’s a quick, strong defender, good in the air, he can play with both feet.

“The short answer is everything about him is what you want. He’s been humble, he’s been inquisitive. He asks questions. He doesn’t want to learn by a mistake in the game, he wants to learn it on the training field before he comes on the pitch. Everything about him has been impressive”

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Having been unveiled ahead of a rampant homecoming against bitter rivals Leeds last weekend, Varane could be in line to make his debut for United this weekend when they face Southampton.

The Red Devils will travel down south to St Mary’s Stadium, having put themselves atop the Premier League table after the opening matchweek thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ hat-trick and Paul Pogba’s quartet of assists.

With Solskjaer’s men arguably the closest rivals to dethroning Manchester City as title holders this term, they will be determined to ensure they dodge any potential banana skins on the road at this early part of the season.

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