Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane has warned Manchester United off a potential summer swoop for Raphael Varane by insisting he “is the future of this club”.
Reports in the papers this week suggested Varane will be Jose Mourinho’s top defensive target if and when he succeeds Louis van Gaal in the Manchester United hotseat this summer.
Mourinho was in charge of Madrid when France defender Varane joined the Spanish giants from Lens in 2011 and should he succeed Van Gaal, is expected to make a reunion with the highly-rated centre back a priority.
Zidane, however, who has been in the Los Blancos dugout since replacing the sacked Rafa Benitez as head coach last month, says Varane is a big part of his first-team plans.
“Of course it is normal Mourinho would want to sign Raphael,” Zidane said at his latest press conference. “He knows him well, he bought him here to the club.”
But the 1998 World Cup winner added of his fellow Frenchman in no uncertain terms: “He is the future of the club.”
Varane, still only 22 years old, has already earned 26 caps for his country while scoring two goals.
He has established himself as a regular starter for Madrid and signed a new six-year contract at the Santiago Bernabeu in September 2014.
Madrid have taken 13 points from five matches in La Liga since appointing Zidane as boss. They are currently third in the table after 23 games with 50 points, four behind leaders Barcelona who have played one fixture less.
Sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao are the visitors to the Bernabeu on Saturday and the undefeated Zidane wants to keep Madrid’s form on song.
He added: “It is going to be my sixth game, I want to keep the run going and the side playing well.”