Real Madrid star Raphael Varane is reportedly “keen” to join Manchester United, while the latest rumours say Jose Mourinho will receive a £250 million war chest to spend in the summer transfer window if he becomes the next Red Devils manager. And, of that massive transfer kitty, £50 million has been reserved for Benfica midfielder Renato Sanches.
According to French outlet Le10Sport.com (h/t Daily Express' James Dickenson), Varane could be tempted to join United, as he believes they would offer an "interesting challenge.”
The report says his status as a secondary option behind starters Sergio Ramos and Pepe might impact his decision, but Varane has become a regular in the rotation under new manager Zinedine Zidane and has appeared in more La Liga matches than either player, per WhoScored.com.
Mourinho played a key role in Varane's emergence as a star defender at Real Madrid, and the two have been persistently linked ever since. The 22-year-old has always been full of praise for the former Chelsea boss and credited him for his development during an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche (h/t Mark Critchley of the Independent).
The France international plays the game with a confidence and swagger that defies his age, as you can see in the video below:
Varane has very few weaknesses. He's a willing and able tackler who has the physical strength to boss attackers around, but his vision and positioning are also excellent, and he doesn't always have to engage forwards physically.
He's shown improvements to his aerial game and is a capable passer, as evidenced by his pass completion percentage, which sits close to 90 percent for the season, per WhoScored.com.
His strong form has carried over to the national team, where he has found plenty of success playing alongside Liverpool's Mamadou Sakho, per OptaJean:
0.8 - France have conceded 0.8 goals per game when Sakho-Varane are starting in central defence (8 goals in 10 games). Steel.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 29, 2016
Few top clubs around Europe wouldn't want to add Varane to their squad, and while he still seems happy in Madrid, Los Blancos' tendency to rotate their defenders will always lead to speculation. Speaking to L'Equipe (h/t MailOnline's John Downes), he has already admitted he wants to play every match, which simply isn't an option in Madrid.
But convincing the youngster to leave Madrid won't be easy. He also told L'Equipe (h/t ESPN.co.uk) Zidane played a key role in convincing him to move to the Spanish capital, and the World Cup winner won't be keen on selling his star defender.
Will Varane follow Mourinho to Old Trafford?
Real have the financial power to turn down just about any offer, and with a transfer embargo on the horizon, they'll do whatever they can to keep hold of all their players, per Ed Malyon of the Daily Mirror.
Meanwhile, the Sun's Matt Heath-Smith claims Mourinho will be handed no less than £250 million to upgrade his squad if he becomes the next United manager, and Sanches, who is expected to cost around £47 million, sits high on the Special One's wish list.
The 18-year-old has been one of the top breakout players of the 2015-16 campaign, playing a big role in Benfica's run to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Here's a look at some of his highlights:
United scouts reportedly watched him during Portugal's friendly against Belgium on Tuesday, where he held his own against the likes of Axel Witsel and Radja Nainggolan.
Sanches flashes a lot of potential as a box-to-box midfielder, showing all of the physical traits scouts look for in such a player. He's fast, strong and technically able, and he's not afraid to engage his opponents and use all means to push them off the ball.
The youngster still has a lot of flaws to correct in the attacking third, as he often makes the wrong decisions, can get wayward with his passing and sometimes plays with his head down, but those are things proper coaching can correct. From a talent perspective, he has everything to become a world-class midfielder.
A move for Sanches is risky, as he's probably not ready to make an immediate impact in a top league like the Premier League, and he has some major flaws that need to be corrected, per Tom Kundert of the Daily Mirror. But there's a reason he's reportedly worth close to £50 million: If nurtured correctly, Sanches could become a major star.