By 90Min
March 22, 2019

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane is reportedly looking to leave the Bernabeu this summer. The gossip suggests he has apparently already informed his friends in the dressing room, with not even the return of Zinedine Zidane as coach enough to change his mind.


But while it might seem amiss of Real to let a player of Varane's quality and reputation leave the club, perhaps it is actually in their best interests to sell him sooner rather than later.

The root of Varane's rumoured desire to leave is to begin a fresh challenge somewhere new and that is perfectly understandable given everything he's done in Madrid.

FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

The French centre-back has been at Real since 2011, signing from Lens not long after his 18th birthday, and is among the club's longest serving first team players - only Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Karim Benzema and Nacho have been around for longer.

During that time, Varane has won everything there is to win with the club, including La Liga titles in 2011/12 and 2016/17, and four Champions Leagues in the last five years alone. He has also won the Copa del Rey, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Supercopa de España.

With France, Varane added the World Cup to his collection last summer and was a Ballon d'Or contender as the only player to win both the Champions League and World Cup in 2018. He finished seventh in the final Ballon d'Or rankings - the next best defender was Marcelo in 22nd - and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year, World Cup Dream Team and FIFPro World XI.

FRANCK FIFE/GettyImages

Whether he has the motivation to do it all over again with Real, given that the squad is now unmistakably in a period of transition, is a serious question that needs asking. It would only be natural for him to want to test himself as he tries to achieve those same feats elsewhere.

There can be no doubting Varane's quality, but from Real's point of view, his fitness record may be worth taking into consideration as they assess the future and whether to let him go.

Even if the player is given the benefit of any doubt over his first two seasons in Spain, during which he played a total of 48 games while still a teenager, Varane arguably hasn't featured often enough over the years since - around 75% of Real games across last six full seasons.

He played in 27 La Liga games last season, missing 11, and it matched his previous best single season tally. If Varane reaches 30 league games this season - he has played 24 at the time of writing - it will be the first time in his career that he has done so, while only twice has he appeared in at least 40 games in all competitions in any given campaign.

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Knee trouble kept Varane out of a chunk of 2013/14. But there has been no clear pattern or recurring problem in the myriad or usually minor but frustrating injuries he's encountered in the years since, missing a few games here and there a few times per season as a result of various muscle, hamstring, calf and Achilles strains, knocks and irritations niggling away.

Should they wish to sell, Real are in a strong position. Varane's current contract doesn't expire until June 2022 and if the player is made available for transfer it would ensure Los Blancos could command a vast fee for someone who is among the best in the world in his position. If Liverpool paid £75m for Virgil van Dijk and Napoli can ask in excess of €100m for Kalidou Koulibaly, Real could certainly expect to receive a windfall in that region should Varane move on.

The money is quite important for Real. Despite their enduring 'Galactico' image, the club does not have endless financial resources in the era of Financial Fair Play and the proposed squad overhaul - reported to be a key condition of Zidane's return - will have to be a least partly funded by sales.

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With older players like Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Marcelo and possibly even Ramos the more likely to be sacrificed for the rebuild, Varane would certainly not have been a player that Real identified for letting go, but if he has his eye on a move anyway, it makes sense to cash in.

Real have been linked with all manner of players ahead of the summer transfer window, including a possible €350m approach for Neymar. Eden Hazard, Christian Eriksen and Raheem Sterling have all also been the subject of media speculation. None will come cheap, while the club will rack up a debt of around €525m renovating the Bernabeu, money that will have to come from somewhere as it is paid back over 35 years and every smart financial decision helps.

It probably isn't what they expected to even consider for at least another few years, but selling Raphael Varane this summer might be in the best interest for Real Madrid and everyone. The player seems to want it and it could actually further their own ends considerably.

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