Man Utd tried to sign Varane in 2011 – but had to settle for Phil Jones instead

Manchester United are closing in on the £42million signing of Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane – a decade on from first being interested in the Frenchman.

The four-time Champions League winner was set to be out of contract at the Bernabeu next summer and became available at the cutdown price, as Los Blancos did not want to lose him on a free.

United have long been interested in the 28-year-old, with their first attempts to sign him dating back to 2011.

At that time, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side had just won a then record-breaking 19th league title, whilst Varane was a promising teenager making waves at French club Lens.

With Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic both around the 30-mark, United were on the lookout for a long-term replacement, especially with their noisy neighbours getting a little bit louder.

Varane was identified as the ideal candidate by the Manchester club, but as we now know it was a 19-year-old Phil Jones who would arrive at Old Trafford that summer for £16.5million.

At the time, Jones had stood out in a struggling Blackburn Rovers side and had performed well for England at Under-21 level.

Within one month of his move to United, he made his first senior appearance for his country.

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In his first season at the club, he made 29 league appearances, keeping 11 clean sheets.

Despite early promise, injury problems and off-field issues around the club have hindered the progress of Jones and stopped him reaching his early potential.

Meanwhile, Varane has gone on to become one of the best defenders in world football after his eventual destination in 2011 was Madrid.

Zinedine Zidane, in his then role of sporting director, played a key part in ‘scooping him up’, according to Ferguson.

Ed Woodward did enquire about Varane’s availability in 2018, but the suggestion was quickly rebuffed by the Spanish side.

Despite that, 10 years on from the initial interest, United now look set to finally get their man.

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