Florentino Perez’s first reign as president was definitely all about star footballers. His second reign seems to be better as he has invested in potential greatness rather than greatness itself. Perez has bestowed his trust on players such as Ozil, Sahin, Khedira and Benzema to thrust Real Madrid back to glory. Continuing this trend, Madrid have signed another youngster, Raphael Varane, on a 6 year contract from Lens for 10 million euros. The amount looks to be bargain for the highly rated Frenchman. After all, how many players captain their club side in their very first season?

Varane – new star on the horizon

Profile

Rafael Varane was born in the city of Lille and started at the club AS Hellemmes at the age of seven. In 2002, he joined RC Lens and has progressed through their youth ranks rapidly. Varane was promoted to the club’s under-19 team, despite being two years younger than several of his teammates and was offered his first professional contract at the age of 17, before the start of 2010-11 season.

He made his debut with the senior team in November, 2010, and then started after a few matches. Since then has played 24 games for the club, scoring two goals and he has already captained the side in his very first year. He is 191 cm tall and has displayed good maturity, slotting in as centre-back and as a defensive midfielder when necessary.

His calmness and maturity has led to comparisons with the great Laurent Blanc and Zidane himself led his negotiations on behalf on Real Madrid, further positioning himself as the one to look out in future. His coach at RC Lens has proclaimed him to be tactically and technically strong.

On the international front, Varane has represented France at Under-18 and Under-21 levels, scoring a goal on his Under-18 debut. He is touted to be the next Laurent Blanc for the senior French squad and playing Real Madrid can give him the necessary push and resources to make it big for the national team.

Strengths

Raphael Varane is a physical giant and his height is an advantage, rather than being a hindrance for the Frenchman. He is mature and is more calculated in his tackles. He has earned only two bookings in the entire season – a statistic which displays his maturity on the field. He has an uncanny ability to read and intercept passes and his ball-distribution is good, reminding people of the Real Madrid great, Fernando Hierro. He is supposed to be an able replacement to the aging Ricardo Carvalho.

Weaknesses

He has not demonstrated any substantial weakness in his short career with Lens but his inexperience at the highest level will be on every body’s mind. And it does not get bigger than playing for Real Madrid in the Champions League. He has very big shoes to fill as he could replace Carvalho in crucial games when the former Chelsea player is injured or given a rest.

Impact at Real Madrid

Signing of Varane means that Garay would be leaving Madrid, and it could also mean that Lass could get less playing time as Varane can be employed as a defensive midfielder as well. He is not a destructive defender as Pepe and hence could be the perfect partner for the Portuguese monster. Jose Mourinho would love to have him in his squad as he can pick up gaps ahead in the field and can move the ball quickly.

Raul Albiol is another back-up defender who would be vying with Varane for a spot. David Mateos will be back from his loan spell but could be shipped out or relegated to being a third choice centre-back. Varane has the chance of getting groomed under one of the finest central defenders of our era, Ricardo Carvalho.

Final Verdict

Real Madrid always had problems finding a reliable centre-back after the departure of Fernando Hierro. Carvalho has been exceptional but age will catch up to him sooner rather than later. Raphael Varane gives hope to Madridistas who have been waiting for another Fernando Hierro. The academy at Madrid has not been able to produce any phenomenal talents for the centre-back position and hence this signing makes perfect sense. The stage is set for Varane – he only needs to fulfill his potential and the world will be at his feet.

Rating: 9/10

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