Mourinho will apparently make Varane his "top target" if he succeeds Louis van Gaal at Old Trafford, according to Sergio Gomez of Spanish publication AS (h/t Samuel Luckhurst and James Dixon of the Manchester Evening News): "The Frenchman is regarded as one of the top talents in world football with Mourinho a long-term fan of the Frenchman."
The big if here is whether Mourinho will ultimately land the United job. Miguel Delaney of the Independent, as well as Dan Roan and Simon Stone of BBC Sport, reported the Portuguese coach's representatives have been in talks with the Old Trafford club.
Sam Cunningham of the Daily Mail has even stated how Mourinho has told friends he's confident he'll get the job. Given his history with Varane, Mourinho's appointment would at least make a transfer approach likely.
Mourinho worked with Varane during his time in charge at Madrid and was effusive in his praise for the quick and combative young defender back in 2014, per the Sun (h/t Elliott Bretland of MailOnline): "I think he is the best young central defender in the world. Already I think he's the best."
For his part, Varane has previously credited Mourinho with playing a key role in his development. In September 2015, he told French source Le Journal du Dimanche (h/t Mark Critchley of the Independent): "During my second year at Madrid, Jose Mourinho gave me a kick up the backside. I wasn't doing well, I wasn't managing to do what he wanted me to out on the pitch."
Since Mourinho's days in Madrid, Varane has become rather inconsistent. Undoubtedly an awesome physical talent, he is prone to lapses in concentration. Yet the raw attributes of a great defender are still present.
United's squad certainly needs one of those despite the considerable improvement made by Chris Smalling on Van Gaal's watch. But the Red Devils remain vulnerable as long as Daley Blind plays alongside Smalling, even though the former Ajax man is very comfortable in possession.
With Phil Jones seemingly always battling injury woes, United need another quick and powerful centre-back. Pairing Varane and Smalling together would give Mourinho the kind of miserly base all of his successful teams have boasted.
Of course, Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane won't be keen to sell. He's also a great admirer of Varane, with the player once telling French publication L'Equipe (h/t ESPN.co.uk) how Zidane "helped convince" him to move to Spain.
Madrid's defence has also had its issues this season, with Sergio Ramos experiencing injury problems while Pepe appears to have lost a step. Varane could be the key to a vital, long-term revamp at the back for Los Blancos.
His loyalty to both Mourinho and Zidane is sure to be tested if this rumour proves true.
Los Merengues Consider James Rodriguez Summer Sale
Real Madrid will reportedly sell James Rodriguez this summer if the mercurial Colombian attacker's form doesn't improve during the remainder of this season.
Alejandro Alcazar of Sport (h/t Alex Harris of the Daily Star) suggests Madrid might repeat history with their playmaker: "Mesut Ozil was sold to Arsenal after he failed to consistently perform at the Bernabeu and bigwig Florentino Perez is pondering similar action," wrote Harris.
Signed by Los Blancos in 2014, after being one of the stars of that year's FIFA World Cup, Rodriguez has flattered to deceive since moving to the Spanish capital.
Successive coaches, including Carlo Ancelotti, Rafa Benitez and now Zidane, have struggled to unleash the former Porto man's obvious talent. Zidane has even reportedly had issues with the player's effort.
He was apparently left unimpressed by Rodriguez's sluggish warm-up as a substitute during a league match against Sporting Gijon, per images from Spanish TV station La Sexta (h/t AS). A report from Spanish source El Confidencial (h/t Metro's George Bellshaw) even stated Madrid informed Rodriguez's agent, Jorge Mendes, they are prepared to sell.
B/R's Sam Tighe notes how there's been "no room" for Rodriguez since Zidane took over:
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If Rodriguez needs any more motivation to turn his career with Los Blancos around, he should consider the club's links to Chelsea winger Eden Hazard.
The Belgian schemer reportedly "has his heart set on a switch to Real, where he would team up with boyhood hero Zinedine Zidane," according to Sami Mokbel of MailOnline, who also reveals Hazard "is likely to snub a potential big-money switch to Paris Saint-Germain in favour of a switch to the Spanish capital."
Like Rodriguez, Hazard can thrive from the flanks and is able to operate as a No. 10 and play behind the striker. The more Rodriguez struggles to impress, the stronger the Hazard rumours will grow.
Rodriguez has had ample opportunities to win over the decision-makers in Madrid. If his attitude is not deemed up to par, he should be sold. Yet, if he is, Los Blancos will still need to replace his technical quality and flair.
But the more pressing issue will be keeping Varane. He can still emerge as the talisman at the back Madrid will need if they are going to stem Barcelona's dominance of both La Liga and Europe.