On June 27, 2011, Real Madrid took a chance and signed a young 18-year-old French defender named Raphael Varane from RC Lens for 10 million euros. Nine years later he has developed himself into a principal player.
As a major club, there is a history of big-time defenders wearing Real’s crest. Be sure to add Varane’s name to that list after he retires. The Frenchman has already had quite the career with the club playing in 313 matches and winning 17 titles. He also has 15 goals and seven assists to his name.
His work-rate, decisiveness and composure come together to become a wondrous piece of art on the pitch. Whether tracking back to cover space, jumping in the air or directing teammates, Varane’s performances are always important to Zinedine Zidane’s team. However, he’s often under-appreciated by the rest of the football world.
Every match he has played in so far throughout this season has been for a full 90 minutes. He’s only sat on the bench five times throughout all competitions and the one time he was not part of the squad (Real Madrid vs. Alaves in La Liga) he came back the next game against Espanyol and scored a goal.
Even after coming back from a lull in play thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, Varane is still showing his incredible consistency. Since the restart began he is one of only five Real players to start every game. Only him and Thibaut Courtois have started every game and also played a full 90 minutes. Holding that stat alone tells you how important the defender is to the club.
You’ll rarely see a mistake from Varane as his performances at the back are routinely solid. Take that and pair it alongside long-term team captain Sergio Ramos and Courtois in goal, the trio has one of the best, if not the best, defensive sides in La Liga. Take one of them out of the equation and it would be a different story.
In a pre-match press conference before the upcoming game against Espanyol, Zidane touched on the magic that is the Ramos-Varane pairing.
“I don’t like singling one player out because what matters is the team, but they’re having exceptional careers at the club and that brings real joy. They’re two players who offer great assurance and they can be relied upon.”
Beyond his technical ability, Varane also emphasizes his leadership qualities on the pitch when playing for both club and country. When the time comes for Ramos to pass along the armband, Varane won’t be far off from taking it and leading the future Real team to more titles.
When you think of the great defenders of the game, they tend to have similar qualities and without a doubt, Raphael Varane has them all. All Madridistas will know the importance of this hidden gem Zidane uncovered years ago but it’s time the rest of the football world started to appreciate him as well.