We hear of elite attackers all the time in world football, but elite defenders are rarer. You may have a stacked attacking lineup, but without a solid backline, it is for nought. It is for this reason that football always needs world-class defenders. One such defender is Raphaël Varane.
Raphaël Varane needs no introduction. The 28-year-old is well-known among football fans. He plays as a centre-back, and has recently completed a big move to Premier League giants Manchester United from Real Madrid. Varane also represents his country France at international level, and is one of Les Bleus’ best players.
Standing at 6’3’’ and weighing 81 kg, Raphaël Varane is one of the world’s best centre-backs. He is comfortable on the ball and can play the role of build-up or destroyer. His reading of the game is top-class, as is his interception ability, tackling and positional awareness. He also possessed great technical ability, and can spray passes forward or over the top. He also possesses an eye for goal, and is a major threat from corners and set pieces due to his height and aerial ability.
At Real Madrid, where he played for the majority of his career, he was part of a four-man backline, partnering Sergio Ramos at the heart of it. The pace and ability of Varane, combined with Ramos’ grit and intelligence meant they formed an impenetrable partnership at the back. Given the wealth of talent at Los Blancos, Varane is one of the most-decorated defenders in world football today. He has won four Champions League titles, beating Paulo Maldini to become the youngest ever three-time winner of the trophy. Furthermore, he has won three La Liga titles, four FIFA Club World Cups, among a plethora of other trophies.
Even on the international stage, Varane has done well. He was called up in 2012, and was included in the French squad for the 2014 World Cup. Heartbreak ensued for Varane and France as they failed to win the World Cup and the Euro 2016, where France would lose to Portugal in extra time. However, redemption would come two years later at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
There, Varane was a key cog of the French juggernaut, as they made it to the final. Varane started all seven of France’s games, and played every minute. He even got on the scoresheet when he scored in France’s 2-0 victory over a stubborn Uruguay. After beating Croatia 4-2 in the final, France won the World Cup for the second time in history, and Varane did so for the first time. In doing so, he became the fourth player to win a World Cup and the Champions League in the same year, after Christian Karembeu, Roberto Carlos and Sami Khedira. This also put him in conversations for the Ballon d’Or.
Varane was born Raphaël Xavier Varane on April 25, 1993. Nicknamed ‘’Don Limpio’’ (Mr. Clean), he started playing football from a very young age. His father, who was a massive football fan, took him to games played by his regional team. His entire family loves football, and regularly watches games.
Varane started off playing rugby, but did not like it very much, and made the switch to football. Joining RC Lens in 2002, his rise was meteoric. He became a starter for the first team in 2010, and caught the eye of many top clubs. A year later, Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid came calling, and he joined the Spanish giants in 2011.
Varane was in a relationship for a long time with Camille Tytgat. The longtime couple married in 2015. In 2017, they welcomed their first child, a son, and named him Ruben. They also have a daughter, Anais.
Varane wears the No. 4 jersey for France, and used to wear the No. 5 jersey at Real Madrid. He is a holder of the French Baccalaureate, an academic qualification in France one can get after high school. Hilariously, when Zidane called Varane to inform him that Real Madrid wanted him, Varane was revising for his examination, and told the legend to call him back later.
Varane is a non-vegetarian. He is a fan of rap, particularly French and American rap, and of the show La Casa de Papel (Money Heist). He has cited his favourite destination to be the Martinique Island in France, which is the birthplace of football legend Thierry Henry.
The Next Chapter
With Varane heading to the Premier League to play for Manchester United, the Red Devils have secured a major coup. Signing an elite defender in his prime can only mean good things, and it is a statement of intent from United to the rest of the league. The arrival of Varane means those little niggles that pop up at the back for United could well and truly be ironed out. If things go their way, they may even be in the hunt for the Premier League title.
Varane is one of the best in the world today, having won everything there is to win in football. There are few defenders today who can match his ability and presence in a football team.
|Raphaël Xavier Varane
|April 25, 1993
|81 kg/175 lbs