Raphael Varane reveals one Real Madrid quality he wants to bring to Man Utd
Raphael Varane explains how Man Utd can repeat Real Madrid quality with a win over Manchester City.
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The Red Devils face Manchester City at Wembley in the first all-Manchester cup final, with Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions heavy favourites for the encounter. Varane knows that struggle all too well from his time at Real Madrid, and the Frenchman’s career in the Spanish capital began when Los Blancos were very much in the shadow of Guardiola’s winning machine at Barcelona.
But over the next decade, Varane went on to win every major honour possible with Real, including three league titles and the Champions League on four occasions. “We grew as a team and as a club during that period. I learned a lot and it was very helpful for me,” the 30-year-old reflected ahead of the FA Cup final. “When you start winning you can change the mentality and be more prepared to win more, and the biggest trophies.
“I think the similarities are Pep and the style of play from City, but it’s different,” Varane added, when asked about his experience of overcoming a Guardiola side. “I don’t think it’s the same thing but I learned a lot from that period in Madrid. It was my first step at the top level. I learned how to fight, developed that winning mentality. We want to develop and be on the top at Manchester United as well.
“We have to be positive, we’re in a good way, but the most important thing is to believe. Even when it’s difficult, we know how important Manchester United are around the world. There’s a lot of pressure, so when the results are not good you have to stay calm and composed. When it’s good we have to be relaxed too and not think we are bigger than we are, than the reality. I learned a lot from a club like Madrid and I try to transmit that here.
“Sometimes quality is not enough - you need the motivation, character, passion on the pitch, because at the top level in the Premier League, there are good players in any team. But to play in this kind of club you need something else, something different; that character to fight, to assume the responsibility, to never hide on the pitch, be ready to face every challenge you can.”
Under Erik ten Hag, there’s undeniable proof of United’s progress, and earlier this season the club ended a six-year wait for a trophy when they lifted the Carabao Cup. This weekend, the Red Devils could add a second piece of silverware to mark a superb first season in Ten Hag’s reign, which has also seen the club secure a return to the Champions League in 2023/24.
“I really enjoy playing here for Man United, playing in England and feeling good with my team-mates, having a good connection with the fans,” claimed Varane. “So I feel really comfortable and very happy to be here helping the team to reach the objectives this season. Obviously we want to finish with a positive feeling.
“The FA Cup is huge here in England,” he continued. “I have a big respect for the fans and we have a good connection, so I know how important this competition - this game - is to them. When it’s a final, you want to win it.”
Varane also revealed he feels his game has developed at Old Trafford. “I think I can read the game better now and anticipate actions much more. I am sprinting less on the pitch. I read [the situation] before to be in a good position,” he explained.
“The evolution of my game is interesting. I make less tackles and less sprints so that means I am using the positioning very well. That’s one of my strengths now.”