Reports suggest that Manchester United’s pursuit of Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane could receive an unexpected boost, as a result of the Spanish side’s surprise re-appointment of Carlo Ancelotti.

Varane is thought to be unwilling to agree a new contract with Los Meringues and United appear to
be front-runners in the chase for his signature.

The centre-back spot has been a regular concern for United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during his
two-year tenure.

Despite being given ample opportunities, neither Victor Lindelof not Eric Bailly have done enough to
convince Solskjaer that they warrant a long-term shot alongside Harry Maguire.

The Europa League final loss to Villareal served as the latest reminder of why the problem position
has become so critical to United’s future title ambitions.

With Maguire absent due to injury, the side’s recurrent weakness from set pieces was again evident,
with Gerard Moreno slipping unattended into United’s box to poach the opening goal.

Solskjaer tried a few combinations in the final five games of the season, with Lindelof, Bailly and Axel
Tuanzebe being mixed and matched as the Norwegian looked to stumble upon a winning formula.

However, the three defenders conceded nine goals in those games, making a player of Varane’s
undoubted quality a major priority for the summer window.

Varane already has one foot out of the door at the Bernabeu, with Ancelotti’s arrival likely to hasten
his departure.

The French stopper struggled to convince during Ancelotti’s previous spell in Madrid, which
prompted Varane to say, “I could have perhaps played more under him if I could have shown him he
could count on me in difficult times.”

Although the Frenchman has conceded that the once-strained relationship has since been repaired, the latest developments will do little to stem the growing belief that the centre-back could be Old Trafford-bound.

Varane is a silky operator who has played at the highest level for almost a decade. Despite his experience, he’s still only 28 years old, meaning he could have at least five years of high-grade football to offer.

A player of World Cup and Champions League-winning calibre, he would add real quality and know-how to Solskjaer’s maturing side.

Additionally, his technical excellence, agility and pace would be the perfect foil for the more physical Maguire, giving United a partnership that, on paper at least, looks like the club’s best since the heady days of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

With his fee rumoured to be in the region of £30m, it could be the most astute bit of business the club does all summer.