Jose Mourinho has a strong bond with Raphael Varane, but Real Madrid should resist their former manager should he come calling for the defender.
Varane arrived at Real Madrid in the summer of 2011, and Mourinho took to him very quickly. The Portuguese coach began to bring him into the first-team fold, playing him ahead of Sergio Ramos or Pepe on occasion.
As Varane continued to develop, Mourinho put more faith in him, and he became a first choice at Real Madrid last season.
Mourinho also fell out with Pepe and claimed that the future of Madrid’s defence was a partnership between Varane and Ramos, per Marca.
It's very easy to analyse the thing with Pepe. His problem has a name, and that name is Raphael Varane. That's the whole story.
You don't need to be particularly clever – it's enough to be a normal guy like me - to understand that this is a case of frustration. It isn't easy for a man aged 31 with a lot of experience behind him to be blown out of the water by a kid of 19. And he's a great kid. I've been brave enough to play the kid. It's very simple. The problem is very simple. Pepe's life has changed.
I think that very few people don't think that Real Madrid's future is a pairing of Varane and Sergio Ramos.
Varane was a composed, consistent performer at just 20 years old—he’s now 21—and many were stunned at just how well he slotted into the team.
However, in part thanks to injury, he has slipped down the pecking order, and Carlo Ancelotti has paired Pepe with Ramos once again.
They have been playing excellently, and Varane has struggled to break his way into the team, although Ancelotti decided to rest Pepe and play Varane on Sunday night.
It did not pay off, with the youngster making a mistake for Valencia’s first goal. He did not defend well against Jeremy Mathieu from a corner, and the centre-back snuck in ahead of him to nod home the opener.
However, it was a rare mistake, and it shouldn’t diminish Varane’s status as one of the finest young players in the world.
Mourinho fluttered his eyelids at Varane earlier this season, telling The Sun, via the Daily Mail, “I think he is the best young central defender in the world. Already I think he's the best.”
To help illustrate the bond between Mourinho and Varane, Marca have provided a video from last season. In it, Varane runs to Mourinho and hugs him after scoring against Barcelona in the Copa del Rey.
How much would Madrid need to sell Varane?
He has also praised the coach’s influence on his career, telling Madrid’s official website, per Goal.com's Chris Kvesa and via Yahoo! Sports Singapore, “Mourinho gives me a lot. He trusts me, lets me express myself and shows me the demands of elite sport and everything that implies. I learn a lot from him.”
But before being swayed by a large Chelsea transfer bid, Real Madrid must consider how useful Varane could be in the years ahead.
He may not be first choice at the moment, or even next season, if Ramos and Pepe continue their excellent partnership.
But Ramos is 28, and Pepe is 31, so Varane is a full decade younger than the latter.
He is the future of Real Madrid, and as long as they play their cards right, what Mourinho said about the Varane-Ramos pairing will come true.