Manchester United great Rio Ferdinand has expressed his admiration for Raphael Varane, labelling the Frenchman as a “genuine world-class centre-back” whose achievements speak for themselves.
The Real Madrid defender is understood to be days away from a move to Old Trafford for a reported fee of £42.7million (€50m) as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer finally finds a suitable partner for Harry Maguire.
United previously ticked another target off their transfer list when they announced the signing of Jadon Sancho, although Varane will provide much-needed experience at the other end of the pitch for the Red Devils.
And former United defender Ferdinand, who amassed 455 appearances and won six Premier League titles in Manchester, could not contain his excitement for Varane’s potential arrival.
“When you watch him sometimes he almost purrs, he’s got that pace, that poise,” Ferdinand said on his self-titled ‘Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE’ YouTube channel.
“We’ve signed a genuine world-class centre-back. His list of honours is ridiculous, it’s as long as my arm.”
Indeed, Varane does ooze class and experience, having won the World Cup in 2018 and collected three LaLiga titles and four Champions Leagues with Madrid.
Despite playing all four games at Euro 2020, the France centre-back was the only one of Didier Deschamps’ defenders to not get dribbled past, while he also led LaLiga defenders in terms of aerial success last season.
Though Varane’s aerial duels were also more than double any of his defensive team-mates, he also ranked second in terms of both interceptions and duels won among the club’s defenders in 2020-21.
Ferdinand, whose £30m move from Leeds United to Man Utd was a record fee for a defender in 2002, also found time to praise former colleague Solskjaer and the recruitment by United this transfer window.
“It’s a great job by the [recruitment] people at Manchester United. United have been criticised in the past, and rightly so, for dilly-dallying in the market,” the former centre-back added.
“This one they were assertive, they went for their man and they got him. No doubt in my mind, he would have said to Real Madrid ‘I need it, I want it, I have to go’.”
Having seen Sancho join the likes of Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Maguire, Ferdinand was adamant that Varane’s transfer would be due to his own insistence to move onto a fresh challenge in England.
“What a signing. There’s been talk in the transfer market since it opened up – it must have come from the player,” Ferdinand continued.
“He must have wanted to leave, and be part of the new Man United way, the project that’s going ahead.
“The talent they’ve got there, the ability to play alongside Maguire after he did so well at the Euros probably played a part. I just think he sees this as a better project than what he’s got at Real Madrid now.”
United get their Premier League campaign underway against Leeds on August 14 and Solskjaer will be hoping to be able to call upon both of his high-profile signings should the deal go through.
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