Brighton v Man Utd: Pictures
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The last time Manchester United signed a serial winner as decorated as Raphael Varane, it was Bastian Schweinsteiger. And, now, unfortunate comparisons can be made between the pair. Varane has had an underwhelming first campaign at Old Trafford since arriving from Real Madrid and, against Brighton on Saturday, was one of the worst players on the pitch.
Manchester United went up against Brighton on Saturday hoping for another win after putting Brentford to the sword on Monday night.
However, the Red Devils were comprehensively outplayed at the Amex Stadium with goals from Moises Caicedo, Marc Cucurella, Pascal Gross and Leandro Trossard giving the home side all three points.
On the day, there were admittedly many bad performers for United.
Victor Lindelof had another horror show, Alex Telles was dire, Scott McTominay was borderline anonymous and Anthony Elanga was hooked after struggling to make his mark.
Varane, however, was arguably the worst player on the pitch.
Every time Brighton ran at the France international he seemed to be in a constant state of panic, with the speed of Graham Potter’s side too much for the defender to live with.
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And that now begs the question: have United signed yet another Schweinsteiger?
Back in the summer transfer window of 2015, Louis van Gaal got wind that his former Bayern Munich captain was willing to leave the Allianz Arena behind.
And United sensed an opportunity, even though there were questions to be asked about why Bayern were happy to let him go.
Schweinsteiger had won every trophy in Bavaria available to him, including eight Bundesliga titles and the Champions League crown in 2013.
So United, despite his injury record, opted to secure his signature.
Schweinsteiger never lived up to expectations, however, and appeared to be a faded force upon his immediate arrival in England.
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He wasn’t the midfield general the club had hoped for and, inside United, they then realised why Bayern adopted the stance they did.
With Varane, board members at Old Trafford can be forgiven for fearing a similar situation.
Real Madrid don’t sell players in their prime. They just don’t, that’s never been their way of doing things.
In the summer, when United signed Varane, many were adamant that he’d be the perfect centre-back partner for Harry Maguire.
But while the Red Devils concede less goals with the 2018 World Cup winner in their side, Varane hasn’t been the hit United have been hoping for.
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It’s also worth noting that injuries appear to be hampering him in recent years, too.
While he made 43 appearances in the 2019/2020 season, that number dropped by two last time around.
And, this season, he’s featured just 29 times – including 22 in the Premier League.
With a better midfield in front of him, and better support, the former Real Madrid star definitely has the potential to improve.
However, his maiden season in English football suggests United might have got this signing wrong.
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Varane has got the ability to get better and he should be, under no circumstances, written off just yet.
But United are still waiting to get bang for their buck and, if he performs like he did against Brighton regularly next season, he’ll be another recruit making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
In April, meanwhile, Graeme Souness criticised Varane for his performances since touching down in the summer.
He said: “Critics often focus on Harry Maguire among United’s centre-backs but in Raphael Varane, I don’t see the same player he was five years ago, bringing me back to what the great Jock Stein said: ‘Never judge a player on memory.’
“Real Madrid tend not to let top players leave. A good example of that is Mesut Ozil at Arsenal.”
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