Raphael Varane has entered the final 12 months of his contract at Real Madrid

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Manchester United have been in dialogue with Real Madrid over Raphael Varane as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer turns his attention to signing a centre-half after securing a £72.9 million deal for Jadon Sancho.

Borussia Dortmund expressed regret on Thursday at losing Sancho to United, subject to the successful completion of a medical after the Euros, and praised the England winger’s behaviour over the past year in the face of concerted interest from Old Trafford.

Solskjaer would now like to bolster his options in central defence and hopes United can strike a deal with Real for Varane, despite a gap in their valuations of the France World Cup winner.

United’s reliance on Harry Maguire was evident during the final weeks of last season when they lost three of their last five games without their captain, including the Europa League final.

Any injury to the England defender next season would leave Solskjaer with Victor Lindelof and the injury-prone trio of Eric Bailly, Axel Tuanzebe and Phil Jones as his central defenders. 

Real are thought to want at least €60m (£51.7m) for Varane, who has entered the final 12 months of his contract at the Bernabeu and has so far given the Madrid giants little encouragement that he is prepared to sign a new deal after growing frustrated by his treatment.

United consider that excessive given Varane’s contract situation and the current economic realities as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and insist any further transfer deals will have to represent good value.

Real need to sell in order to release funds to aid Carlo Ancelotti’s rebuild of the squad but, having already seen captain Sergio Ramos depart, the prospect of the club allowing two players who have formed the backbone of four European Cup-winning teams to leave in the same summer would be a big step to take.

The Spanish club have been linked with Villarreal’s Pau Torres, who has been scouted by a number of Premier League clubs including United, although it is not unfeasible that Varane could stay at Real if he received the right reassurances and terms. 

Meanwhile, Hans-Joachim Watzke, the Dortmund chief executive, paid tribute to the outgoing Sancho. “At the end of the day, this is done explicitly at Jadon’s request. We would have liked to keep him,” he said.

“But he behaved fantastic and was superb in the second half of the season. It makes a difference whether someone communicates this clearly or goes on strike. We are not happy about the money, but are sad that he is leaving.”