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Manchester United have made an opening bid of £50million for Real Madrid central defender Raphael Varane, but the Spanish giants will demand £80million.

Whilst it is little surprise that the first offer has been rejected by the Spanish capital club, there is an expectation at United that Madrid will lower their valuation in negotiations.

Varane is out of contract at Madrid next summer and the Spanish giants will be keen to cash-in on the defensive star this summer rather than risk losing him as a free agent next year.

The 28-year-old is increasingly unlikely to renew his contract at Los Blancos as he wants to double his annual salary of €12million (£10million), but the club are hopeful of making financial cutbacks.

Raphael Varane – out of contract in 2022 – may leave Real Madrid this summer
(Image: Getty Images)

Varane’s future is not likely to be impacted by club captain Sergio Ramos – with whom Varane has formed a formidable defensive partnership over the years – leaving Madrid after 16 seasons.

On Wednesday it was confirmed that Ramos would be leaving the club as a free agent, but the signing of David Alaba from Bayern Munich coupled with the impressive form of Nacho Fernandez and Eder Militao has lessened Madrid’s concerns in that position.

It has been highlighted by the Manchester Evening News that United have now tabled their first bid for Varane, who is currently representing France at Euro 2020.

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The absence of club captain Harry Maguire in the closing weeks of the campaign highlighted United’s defensive vulnerabilities with Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly forming an unconvincing partnership.

The centre of defence has been a priority positioning for strengthening for multiple years with former boss Jose Mourinho having a high-profile fallout with CEO Ed Woodward in the summer of 2018 for not signing in that position.

Would signing Raphael Varane make Manchester United title contenders? Comment below

Woodward held a breakfast with Madrid president Florentino Perez that summer in which he enquired about the availability of Varane but was swiftly informed that he was not for sale.

Varane – a boyhood fan of United, when Rio Ferdinand was his icon – almost moved to Old Trafford from Lens in 2011 but Madrid’s late approach ensured the Frenchman instead went to Spain.

Zinedine Zidane was then the sporting director at Madrid and was influential in swaying Varane’s decision, with United instead signing Phil Jones from Blackburn.

Now aged 28, Varane is widely considered an elite central defender with his technique on the ball and recovery speed both seen as vital components at United.

He is comfortable at playing out from the back while his turn of pace complements Maguire – whose style of play is widely appreciated but his lack of speed on the turn has often restricted United from deploying a high defensive line.

Varane’s 10-year career at Madrid has encompassed 360 appearances and 18 trophies, including three La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.

He also starred for France in their World Cup success in 2018 and he has long been the top defensive target at United – who after a decade-long wait, now have their best opportunity of landing Varane.