Raphaël Xavier Varane[pronunciation?] (born 25 April 1993) is a French professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Premier League club Manchester United and the France national team. He is regarded as one of the best defenders of his generation.
|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 16:32, 2 October 2021 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 10 October 2021
Varane 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, and after one season as a professional footballer, he joined Real Madrid. There, over the course of 10 seasons from 2011 to 2021, he won 18 trophies, including three La Liga titles, one Copa del Rey, four UEFA Champions League titles and four FIFA Club World Cups. In 2021, he left Real Madrid to sign with Manchester United.
Varane represented France at under-18, under-20 and under-21 level before making his full international debut in March 2013. He was part of France's FIFA World Cup squad in 2014, when he was nominated for the Best Young Player award, and in 2018, when he played every minute of every game as France went on to win the title.
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, defensive partner Éric 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 early 2011, Varane was the subject of transfer speculation linking him 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.
2011–12: Signing and La Liga winEdit
On 22 June 2011, Lens president Gervais Martel confirmed to a group of supporters at a club meeting that Varane would be joining La Liga club Real Madrid. 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.
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.
2012–2016: First-team regular, UEFA Champions League winsEdit
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 readers 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.
Varane came on as an injury-time substitute for Karim Benzema in the 2014 Copa del Rey Final which Real Madrid won 2–1 against Barcelona on 16 April. 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 to keep him at Real Madrid until 2020. He was a part-time starter when the team won the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League.
2016–2021: Continued successEdit
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.
Varane's 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. Following his club and international performances throughout the year, he was included in the 30-man shortlist for the 2018 Ballon d'Or, finishing in seventh place in the final ranking. He was also placed ninth in The Best FIFA Men's Player behind Kevin De Bruyne, and was elected as the starting centre-back for both the 2018 FIFPro Men's World11 and the UEFA Team of the Year.
During the 2018–19 season, he made 43 appearances, while winning the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup. He was a regular starter during the following league season, as Real Madrid won the 2019–20 La Liga title. During the Champions League, Madrid were eliminated in the round of 16 by Manchester City. In the second leg at the City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, Madrid lost the game 2–1, with Varane being deemed to be at fault for both goals. The mistakes committed by the Frenchman were due to the high pressuring from Gabriel Jesus which led to Varane losing possession of the ball both times. He has since apologised for his mistakes.
On 27 July 2021, it was announced that Manchester United and Real Madrid had reached an agreement for Varane's transfer, subject to a medical and to player terms being finalised. The transfer was completed on 14 August 2021, after Varane was announced in front of a packed Old Trafford crowd ahead of United's Premier League opener against Leeds United. He was given the number 19 shirt previously worn by Amad Diallo, which he also donned during his first season with Real Madrid. He made his debut on 29 August 2021 and contributed an assist to the winning goal in a 1–0 win away against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
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 play-offs.
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 for 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 France's 23-man 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 quarter-final against Uruguay, Varane he scored the opening goal with a header 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.
Style of playEdit
Varane has been described by Lens youth coach Éric 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 studying for his baccalaureate exam.
- As of match played 2 October 2021
|Club||Season||League||National cup[a]||League cup[b]||Europe||Other||Total|
|Real Madrid||2011–12||La Liga||9||1||2||1||—||4[c]||0||0||0||15||2|
|Manchester United||2021–22||Premier League||5||0||0||0||0||0||2[c]||0||—||7||0|
- Includes Coupe de France, Copa del Rey, FA Cup
- Includes Coupe de la Ligue, EFL Cup
- Appearances in UEFA Champions League
- One appearance in Supercopa de España, two in FIFA Club World Cup
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, two in FIFA Club World Cup
- One appearance in UEFA Super Cup, two in FIFA Club World Cup, two in Supercopa de España
- Appearance(s) in Supercopa de España
- As of match played 10 October 2021
- As of match played 7 October 2021
- 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||Friendly|
|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|
|5||14 November 2019||Stade de France, Saint-Denis, France||63||Moldova||1–1||2–1||UEFA Euro 2020 qualification|
- La Liga: 2011–12, 2016–17, 2019–20
- Copa del Rey: 2013–14
- Supercopa de España: 2012, 2017, 2019–20
- 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 World11: 2018
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2018
- UEFA Champions League Squad of the Season: 2017–18
- FIFA World Cup Fantasy Team: 2018
- FIFA World Cup Dream Team: 2018
- IFFHS Men's World Team: 2018
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- "Décret du 31 décembre 2018 portant promotion et nomination" [Decree of 31 December 2018 on promotion and appointment]. Official Journal of the French Republic (in French). 2019 (1). 1 January 2019. PRER1835394D. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Raphaël Varane.|
- Real Madrid official profile
- Raphaël Varane at the French Football Federation (in French)
- Raphaël Varane – UEFA competition record (archive)
- Raphaël Varane – FIFA competition record (archived)
- Raphaël Varane at BDFutbol
- Raphaël Varane – French league stats at LFP – also available in French
- Raphaël Varane at L'Équipe Football (in French)
- Raphaël Varane at Soccerbase