Raphael Varane will not play for Manchester United again in 2022, Erik ten Hag has confirmed – but that doesn’t mean his hopes of going to the World Cup are over.
Varane was substituted off in Manchester United’s draw with Chelsea at the weekend due to injury. While leaving the pitch, the defender appeared to be in tears – or at least visible distress.
Of course, picking up an injury just one month before the World Cup is due to commence is hardly ideal. But there are several fixtures to fulfil with his club before then as well.
Indeed, Ten Hag’s side have six games to play before the break for the tournament in Qatar. First up is a Europa League tie with Sheriff Tiraspol, which the manager was speaking in view of.
Varane is not going to be fit enough to make that squad or any of the five others before domestic football is put on pause for a few weeks.
Ten Hag said at a press conference: “Rapha Varane isn’t in the squad.
“He will be out, certainly until the World Cup so he will not play in this block [of games] for Man Utd.”
Therefore, in addition to the clash against Sheriff, Varane will not be available against West Ham, Real Sociedad, Aston Villa (twice) or Fulham.
However, the Dutch tactician offered a glimmer of hope to France that they may be able to call upon Raphael Varane for the defence of their World Cup trophy – and as long as he gets through that unscathed, that means he should be available for Manchester United again by the time they host Nottingham Forest on December 27.
Asked if Varane could yet go to Qatar, Ten Hag said: “I think so, but the prognosis we have to wait. We have to see how it develops, how the rehab will develop.”
Even so, it would be better for Varane to head to such a tournament in a rhythm from his duties at club level. Due to his current absence, that will not be the case.
Maguire back in training and could replace Raphael Varane
Ten Hag will have to work out how to get through the upcoming games without the former Real Madrid man.
Lisandro Martinez has been doing reasonably well as the left-sided centre-back since joining from Ajax in the summer. Next to him, there could be opportunities for either Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof.
Maguire has been away from action himself for a while due to injury and loss of form. However, there is now a chance for the club captain to reclaim his place, since his own return is near.
Indeed, the former Leicester City man has joined Donny van de Beek and Aaron Wan-Bissaka in returning to training.
Ten Hag confirmed: “They are all back in training.
“Donny, Harry and Aaron are all in training for preparation for tomorrow’s game.”
As for whether they could feature against Sheriff, Ten Hag responded: “We will assess after training. Together with the medical [staff], I will take the decision.”
As long as Manchester United avoid defeat by more than one goal against Sheriff, they will be through to the Europa League knockout stage. Top spot is still up for grabs, though, since Real Sociedad are currently leading the way.