Raphaël Xavier Varane (French pronunciation: [ʁafaɛl vaʁan]; born 25 April 1993) is a French professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Spanish club Real Madrid and the France national team.
|Full name||Raphaël Xavier Varane|
|Date of birth||25 April 1993|
|Place of birth||Lille, France|
|Height||1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 11:54, 19 May 2019 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 20:47, 8 June 2019 (UTC)
He previously played for French club Lens and, ahead of the 2010–11 season, began training with the senior team and appeared on the bench in several league matches. Varane made his professional debut in 2010 aged 17, in a league match against Montpellier. After one season with the French club, and as a professional footballer, Varane joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2011.
Since joining the Spanish giants, he has made over 250 appearances for the club and has won 16 major honours including: two La Liga titles and four UEFA Champions League titles. At only 24 years of age, Varane won his third UEFA Champions League trophy making him the youngest defender ever to have won three Champions League trophies, beating Paolo Maldini who was 26 when he won his third Champions League title.
Varane was a France youth international, having earned caps at under-18, under-20 and under-21 level. He made his full international debut in March 2013 and represented the country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. After an admirable performance during the 2014 FIFA World Cup he was nominated for the Best Young Player award. He won the 2018 FIFA World Cup in which he played every minute of every game.
Varane has been described by Lens youth coach Eric Assadourian as a "truly first class player" who is "comfortable on both the tactical and technical level". Many ex players and current football managers, such as Fernando Hierro and José Mourinho, consider Varane to be one of the best defenders in world football.
Varane was born in the city of Lille in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. He is of Martiniquais heritage through his father, Gaston, who is originally from Le Morne-Rouge, while his mother, Annie, was raised in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux. Varane began his football career in the Arrondissement of Lille playing for local club AS Hellemmes at the age of seven. After spending two years at the club, in July 2002, he joined professional club RC Lens, despite some interest from Derby du Nord rivals and hometown club Lille OSC. Similar to the development of the club's previous prized assets such as Gaël Kakuta and Timothée Kolodziejczak, Varane spent time at the Centre de Préformation de Football in nearby Liévin, a training center exclusively for players brought up in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. He spent two years at the center training there during the weekdays and playing with Lens on the weekends.
After returning full-time to Lens, Varane quickly ascended up the club's youth ranks. In the 2008–09 season, alongside teammates Thorgan Hazard and Geoffrey Kondogbia, he played on the club's under-16 team that won the Championnat National des 16 ans. In the following season, Varane was promoted to the club's under-19 team, despite being two years younger than several of his teammates. Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Varane signed his first professional contract. He was, subsequently, promoted to the club's reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur. Varane made his amateur debut in the club's opening league match of the campaign in a 2–0 victory over Drancy. He appeared as a starter in the club's next nine matches with the team losing only one of them.
In late October of the campaign, Varane was called up to the senior team by manager Jean-Guy Wallemme to train ahead of the club's match against Montpellier on 6 November. He trained with the team for the entire week and, due to an injury to centre-back Alaeddine Yahia, Varane was, surprisingly, named to the starting lineup. In the match, he played the full 90 minutes in a 2–0 victory. The victory was only the club's third clean sheet of the season. Varane was praised by teammates, most notably captain Adil Hermach, defending partner Eric Chelle, and striker David Pollet, as well as by the local media and coach Wallemme. In the next two matches, Varane, alongside several other youth players, sat on the bench as Lens faced two tough teams in Marseille and Lyon. He returned to the starting lineup on 30 November in a 4–1 defeat to Brest. Despite the firing of Wallemme following the Brest match, Varane remained a starter in the team under new manager László Bölöni. In December, with both Chelle and Yahia returning to action, Varane was placed in the defensive midfielder role in the team's match against Bordeaux. In the match, he acted as a roving third centre-back and made a blocked save in the 84th minute on a close range shot by Yoan Gouffran to preserve a 2–1 lead. However, in the latter stages of the match, Bordeaux equalized to draw the match at 2–2.
In January 2011, Varane was the subject of transfer speculation with the player being linked to several clubs. In an effort to quell the interest, on 3 February 2011, he signed a two-year contract extension with Lens until 2015. On 8 May, Varane scored his first professional goal in a 1–1 draw with Caen. In the team's following match against Monaco, he scored the equalizing goal in another 1–1 draw. Despite the goal, the stalemate condemned Lens to relegation back to Ligue 2 after two seasons in the top division. On 21 May, Varane captained Lens in its 1–0 defeat to Arles-Avignon.
On 22 June 2011, Lens president Gervais Martel confirmed to a group of supporters at a club meeting that Varane would be joining Spanish club Real Madrid stating, "He will play for Real Madrid under the guidance of José Mourinho." Varane had previously visited Real Madrid's club facilities and also met with club advisor and compatriot Zinedine Zidane. On 27 June, the move was confirmed by Real Madrid after Varane successfully passed his medical. Varane signed a six-year contract with the club and the transfer fee is purported to be in the range of €10 million.
Varane was assigned the number 19 shirt and made his club debut for Real Madrid in the club's opening pre-season fixture against American outfit Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2011 World Football Challenge. He appeared as a half-time substitute as Real Madrid cruised to a 4–1 win. Varane made his first start for the club four days later in a 3–0 win over Mexican club Guadalajara. He finished the pre-season campaign appearing in seven of the eight pre-season matches Real Madrid contested.
Varane made his competitive debut for Real Madrid on 21 September in the team's league match against Racing de Santander. He started the match at centre-back alongside Ricardo Carvalho as the match ended 0–0. In the team's next league match three days later against Rayo Vallecano, Varane started and scored his first goal for the club after a flying back-heel shot following a Mesut Özil corner. Real Madrid won the match 6–2. Varane's goal made him the youngest foreign player at 18 years and 152 days to score a goal in a competitive match for Real Madrid. On 27 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 3–0 group stage win over Dutch club Ajax. Two months later, Varane made his second Champions League appearance against Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. In the match, Varane started and assisted on the team's fifth goal, scored by José Callejón, in a 6–2 win. The victory ensured Real Madrid first place in its group.
Ahead of the 2012–13 season, Varane switched to the number 2 shirt. After failing to appear in Real Madrid's first four league matches, he made his season debut on 18 September in the club's opening UEFA Champions League group stage match against English club Manchester City. Varane started and played the entire match as Real Madrid won 3–2.
On 30 January 2013, Varane made his El Clásico debut against Barcelona in the 2012–13 Copa del Rey. He stopped a group of dangerous attempts from Barcelona, including a shot from Xavi that he cleared from the goal line. He capped his performance with a headed goal in the game, which ended 1–1. He also became the second-youngest foreign player to score for Real Madrid in a Clásico match. In the return leg at the Camp Nou on 26 February 2013, Varane scored Madrid's third goal in a 3–1 away win with a header from a corner kick by Mesut Özil. Varane gained praise from former World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu after his performances against Barcelona and Manchester United. He said, "We are talking about a kid at Real Madrid who has unseated Pepe, and Pepe, with all his stuff, is still a great centre-half. His performance against Manchester United and Barcelona was extraordinary". Varane continued to impress in the Champions League quarter final first leg against Galatasaray, where he helped Madrid keep a clean sheet in a 3–0 triumph. All of his 27 passes found his teammates without any interception, and all of his tackles succeeded, with most on Didier Drogba.
In April 2013, Varane was named by Marca as a member of the "Best foreign eleven in Real Madrid's history". On 14 May 2013, Varane successfully underwent an operation on his right knee after an injury he had picked up during his last 2012–13 league match against Real Sociedad.
He played all 120 minutes of Real Madrid's 4–1 win over Atlético Madrid in the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final, in place of the more experienced Pepe. In added time at the end of extra time, after Cristiano Ronaldo scored the last goal, Varane kicked the ball towards Atlético manager Diego Simeone, causing him to run onto the pitch in anger. Simeone was sent to the stands and Varane booked for the incident. After the game, Atlético captain Gabi excused Varane due to his youth, while Simeone himself said, "I also made a mistake with my reaction. He's a young guy with a bright future."
On 18 September 2014, Varane signed a new six-year contract that will keep him at Real Madrid until 2020.
Despite having a few injuries during the season, he made 23 appearances, when Madrid won the 2016–17 La Liga. He was starting in the final when Madrid won the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League.
His contract was extended until 2022 on 27 September 2017. During the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League, he made eleven appearances, when Madrid won their third consecutive and 13th overall Champions League title.
Prior to playing for the under-18 team, he was called up to the under-17 team, but did not make an appearance. Varane made his debut with the under-18 team on 24 August 2010 in a friendly match against Denmark. On his debut, he scored the final goal in a 2–0 victory. Varane turned down subsequent call-ups to the under-18 team because of his increased participation with the Lens first team and, as a result, missed the Tournoi de Limoges and a tournament in Israel. On 3 February 2011, he was called up to the under-21 team by coach Erick Mombaerts for the first time for a friendly match against Slovakia. Varane described the call up as "a huge surprise". He earned his first under-21 cap and start in the match against Slovakia playing the entire match in a 3–1 win. On 15 November, Varane scored his first under-21 goal in a 2–0 2013 Euro U-21 qualifying win over Slovakia. The victory ensured France qualification to at least the competition's qualifying playoffs.
In August 2012, Varane was called to the full French national team squad for a friendly against Uruguay, but was an unused substitute. He started his first match for France on 22 March 2013 in a qualifier for the World Cup against Georgia, a 3–1 victory. On 13 May 2014, he was included in Didier Deschamps' squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
On 15 June 2014, he partnered Mamadou Sakho in central defence during Les Bleus' first World Cup fixture – a 3–0 win over Honduras. He was also in the starting line-up for the second group match against Switzerland and the knockout matches against Nigeria and Germany, as France were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the Germans 1–0. Varane took the blame for allowing Mats Hummels to hold him off at the critical set-piece which allowed the German defender to head the winning goal. In spite of this, Varane was named on the three-man shortlist for the tournament's Best Young Player award. On 14 October, Varane became the youngest player to captain France when he took over from Blaise Matuidi at half time in a 3–0 win over Armenia. He was then selected as the team's starting captain for a home friendly against Sweden on 18 November, where he scored his first international goal to give Les Bleus a 1–0 win.
On 17 May 2018, Varane was called up to the 23-man French squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He would go on to start in all seven of France's games and play every minute. In the quarterfinal against Uruguay, Varane exorcised the memories of the 2014 quarterfinal nightmare as he headed the opening goal in France's 2–0 victory. France later went on to win the competition for the second time in history, and Varane became only the fourth player to be a World Cup champion and Champions League winner in the same year, after Christian Karembeu (in 1998), Roberto Carlos (in 2002), and Sami Khedira (in 2014). All the players, like Varane, were playing for Real Madrid at the time they won the World Cup.
Varane has been described by Lens youth coach Eric Assadourian as a "truly first class player" who is "comfortable on both the tactical and technical level". On 30 January 2013, the then Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka talked about Varane in the press conference post-El Clásico of the Copa del Rey, saying, "It's obvious that Varane has a good head on his shoulders and will keep improving."
Former France defender Frank Leboeuf believes that Varane has the potential to be better than Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro, saying to reporters, "Many compare him to Hierro due to his technique, but on the physical level he is stronger and he is much faster." Fernando Hierro and José Mourinho have labelled Varane as one of the best defenders in world football.
When Zinedine Zidane called Varane about Real Madrid's interest in signing him in June 2011, Varane asked Zidane to call him back because he was in the middle of revising for his baccalaureate exam.
- As of 19 May 2019
- As of match played 8 June 2019
- As of match played 22 March 2019. France score listed first, score column indicates score after each Varane goal.
|1||18 November 2014||Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France||17||Sweden||1–0||1–0||Friendly|
|2||26 March 2015||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||18||Brazil||1–0||1–3|
|3||6 July 2018||Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia||47||Uruguay||1–0||2–0||2018 FIFA World Cup|
|4||22 March 2019||Zimbru Stadium, Chișinău, Moldova||55||Moldova||2–0||4–1||UEFA Euro 2020 qualification|
- La Liga: 2011–12, 2016–17
- Copa del Rey: 2013–14
- Supercopa de España: 2012, 2017
- UEFA Champions League: 2013–14, 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18
- UEFA Super Cup: 2014, 2016, 2017
- FIFA Club World Cup: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018
- FIFA FIFPro World XI: 2018
- FIFA FIFPro World XI 3rd team: 2015, 2017
- FIFA FIFPro World XI 4th team: 2016
- FIFA FIFPro World XI 5th team: 2014
- UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season: 2017–18
- FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2018
- FIFA World Cup Fantasy McDonald’s Overall XI: 2018
- UEFA Defender of the Season – Runner-up: 2018
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2018
- IFFHS Men's World Team: 2018
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Raphaël Varane.|
- Real Madrid official profile
- Raphaël Varane at Soccerway
- Raphaël Varane at BDFutbol
- Raphaël Varane – French league stats at LFP
- Raphaël Varane at L'Équipe Football (in French)
- Raphaël Varane – UEFA competition record
- Raphaël Varane at Soccerbase
- Raphaël Varane at the French Football Federation (in French)