Raphael Varane is a big player with an ego to match, and has clearly fallen out with Erik ten Hag, Mail Sport’s Chris Wheeler tells It’s All Kicking Off… with the row undermining the Man United manager
- The French World Cup winner has made just seven starts across all competitions
- Varane has been sidelined – but didn’t move to United to ‘sit on the bench’
- Raphael Varane row is undermining United boss Erik ten Hag – It’s All Kicking Off
Erik ten Hag and Raphael Varane have ‘obviously’ fallen out, and the result could prove critical for Manchester United, Mail Sport’s expert Chris Wheeler shared on It’s All Kicking Off.
The former Real Madrid man moved to Manchester for a bumper £41million plus add-ons in the summer of 2021, and in subsequent seasons became an important presence for the club’s defence – and particular stalwart of Ten Hag’s after his appointment in 2022.
But increasingly out-of-favour at Old Trafford, relations are thought to be irretrievably broken between the two men, with the defender making just seven starting appearances across all competitions.
Both Varane and former Real Madrid team-mate Casemiro are thought to be heading for the exit at Old Trafford, possibly as early as the upcoming January window, after the sale of a 25 per cent stake in the club to Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
However, the fracas between Varane and his manger could have far greater ramifications for the dressing room whether he stays or goes, as Wheeler discussed with Mail Sport’s Ian Ladyman.
Raphael Varane has been increasingly sidelined at United after falling out with Erik ten Hag
The pair had a strong relationship during the Dutch manager’s debut season and Varane was all but undroppable
During this season’s campaign, Varane has started just seven times across all competitions
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‘In the dressing room, I think (Ten Hag) has support,’ Wheeler shared. ‘I think there’s obviously an issue with Jadon Sancho, naturally. The one that I think is concerning people is the Varane thing, that’s very strange.
‘He’s a World Cup winner, he’s come from Real Madrid, he was an absolute shoe-in for a place in this team pretty much since he came into the club. And there’s been obviously a falling out there. Erik’s calling it rumours, he’s not really biting on it.
‘(But) there has quite clearly been a falling out between Ten Hag and Varane essentially over him being dropped for the derby and the fact that Johnny Evans was played alongside (Harry) Maguire instead of him, and that was very hard for someone like him to go and take.
‘So I think it’s a bad time for Erik Ten Hag to be losing support of senior players, and I think there’s a certain degree of sympathy for Jadon Sancho, and Varane, of course, has his allies in that dressing room.’
Wheeler added that it wasn’t ‘all roses’ at Carrington, and revealed that there had been some backlash to Ten Hag’s strident discipline with his players.
‘I think when it’s going well, all these things work fine,’ Wheeler added. ‘When things start to go wrong, that’s when people begin to gripe a little bit, and it is a concern.’
Ladyman noted that it was a ‘dangerous’ decision of Ten Hag’s to find himself at odds with a player of Varane’s stature, and in light of the former World Cup winner’s strong contributions during United’s last campaign, as well as how being on the outside might impact his mood in the dressing room.
‘The bigger the player, the bigger the ego, the bigger the problem,’ Wheeler agreed. ‘Obviously, the great example of that would be the whole (Cristiano) Ronaldo thing that happened last year. That became untenable in the end, of course.
‘I don’t think that Varane is on that scale. He’s not that kind of player, not that kind of person. But you’re absolutely right. When you have a senior player like that, obviously he’s got a big ego. He’s proud. He’s proud of what he’s done in his career.
‘He hasn’t come to Manchester United to go be on the bench and play behind someone like Jonny Evans who, with all due respect, is 35 now. He wants to be playing, he should be playing in that team. This team’s not good enough to leave out Raphael Varane, you know.
Ten Hag has brought Harry Maguire (left) back into the fold, and become increasingly reliant on Jonny Evans (right)
‘When you have a senior player like that, a big name, a star name, who’s not playing, and I think no one’s accusing him of subterfuge here, but you’re absolutely right.
‘You get players starting to moan a bit and they’ve got allies themselves and they’ll be – they’re not causing trouble, but certainly will not be a positive influence. And that’s what he needs right now.’
Ten Hag has scant time to rebuild his relationship with Varane and reintegrate him into his squad amidst a difficult run of fixtures as United attempt to hold onto their Premier League standing and continue in Europe.
Currently rock-bottom of Group A, after drawing 3-3 with Galatasaray on Wednesday evening, Man United must both beat Bayern Munich and hope results go their way in Copenhagen’s meeting with the Turkish side to make it through to the Champions League knockout rounds.
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