Raphael Varane believes a different type of motivation comes from aiming to win trophies at Real Madrid, which he did countless times, and delivering success at Manchester United.
Varane is currently recovering from an injury and his absence has been felt in the team, after some diabolical defensive displays and conceding a ton of goals — most notably against Leicester City, Liverpool and Watford.
In an exclusive interview with Matt Law, the World Cup winner speaks warmth club legends receive at Manchester United and how he wanted a different challenge to defend and create history. Varane did the interview a week after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the manager who signed him, was sacked and shortly after it was announced that Ralf Rangnick was step in.
“It’s important for this club to be at the top and I’m sure fans will always remember which team comes back to the top,” Varane told The Telegraph.
“That’s a great challenge. That’s a challenge that motivates me.
“I won everything [at Madrid], so maybe I was looking for a different feeling. To defend history. You have to fight for something bigger than you. You have to fight for the club and the fans and this history. That’s very important.
“From the outside, you can see how the club respects legends, respects history. Now I can feel it on the inside and know the feeling of being a player of Manchester United. Everyone respects everyone and I feel the warmth. I feel like everyone here is equal, there are no differences.”
We know what the Real Madrid fans are like and many feel they never fully appreciated five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Not quite like United fans did from day one.
It was also interesting to read his take on the United fans, who are the best in football, since they had an influence on his decision to join in the summer. The way he describes his time in England, you can tell it’s been an eye-opener thus far.
“A very good example was the atmosphere at Old Trafford when we were losing 2-0 and we won the game 3-2 [against Atalanta]. The stadium pushed the team. In all the countries it’s very different if you are losing 2-0 at home, the atmosphere will be very different.
“That’s one of the reasons I came here because of the different atmosphere, different feeling in stadiums. Manchester United is special (for that) and in England it’s different in comparison to other countries in Europe.”
Varane won the lot (18 trophies) during his 10-years in Spain – from 4 Champions Leagues, 4 Club World Cups, 3 European Super Cups, 3 Spanish Super Cups to 3 La Liga titles.
It remains to be seen what defensive partnership we will see at centre-back under interim manager Ralf Rangnick, but Varane is confident he can form a formidable duo with Harry Maguire or any of United’s other central defenders.
The club will probably need to dip into the transfer market again, in search of a top defender, if Rangnick is unable to find a fix to our defensive problems over the next six months.
“We have complementary qualities,” he said about Maguire. “I like to protect the back of the defence and he likes to go [slaps hands] in the contact. So we can do both, but, obviously, because of our characteristics we prefer some situations and that’s why we are complementary. We can also play with Victor, Eric or Phil, who have their own qualities, so there are many options.”
One thing is certain… the sooner Varane returns the better.