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Premier League • England

Raphael Varane next club: Man Utd exit sees Saudi Pro League and MLS links strengthen

Decision time for Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane could accept a huge payday in Saudi Arabia or return to France

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has been strongly linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League after announcing his imminent departure from Old Trafford, while rumours of a possible MLS switch or a return to Ligue 1 have also begun circulating.

Expectations for Varane at Old Trafford were high after he joined the club following a highly successful spell at Real Madrid.

Varane agreed to depart Manchester United after it became clear that the club were unwilling to maintain his wages at or at least close to their current level.

However, he departs Old Trafford on good terms and by mutual consent.

Manchester United are keen to lower their wage bill as they prepare for a rebuild driven by new owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Meanwhile, Varane is said to be interested in a step down in intensity from the Premier League, pointing to a likely move to Saudi Arabia.

Varane recently retired from international football and seems to be in the market for a move to a ‘retirement league’.

Which clubs have been linked with Raphael Varane?

TEAMtalk can confirm that a move to Saudi Arabia is likely for the 31-year-old Varane.

Varane reportedly received a huge salary offer from big-spending Saudi Pro League club Al-Ittihad earlier this year.

Al-Ittihad have been linked with several big-name players with the club holding a vested interest in bringing marketable stars to Jeddah.

The club is already home to former Chelsea star N’Golo Kante and erstwhile Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

Al-Ittihad have also been linked with Varane’s Manchester United teammates Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes.

They are out to keep pace with their great rivals in the Saudi Pro League, Al-Nassr, who have benefitted greatly from the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Al-Nassr are actually another Saudi club to have been linked with Varane themselves and could potentially reunite him with his former Real Madrid colleague.

TEAMtalk has also discovered that newly promoted Al Qadsiah could invest in Varane.

Raphael Varane has started 26, 31 and 24 games in his three seasons at Man Utd

Alternatively, Varane might also consider a move to Major League Soccer in the United States where a few prominent former France teammates are currently making a living.

While MLS clubs have been granted some concessions to the strict salary caps to sign marquee players it seems unlikely that American clubs will be able to stump up the kind of salary Varane could command in the Gulf state.

Still, rumours have been floated that he could join Hugo Lloris at LA Galaxy or Olivier Giroud at Galaxy’s cross-town rivals LA FC.

Elsewhere on the North American continent, it has even been sensationally claimed in Mexico that he could go to Tigres.

There are also options for him to stay in Europe with Galatasaray prepared to offer him a competitive salary but they aren’t likely to win a financial tug of war with Al-Ittihad.

Juventus have also been tipped as potential takers, while claims he could stay in the Premier League with Chelsea seem dubious – as do rumours of a return to Madrid with Real’s rivals Atletico.

Could he go home to France?

If sentiment wins out over money, Varane might well return to his hometown club Lens.

Lens wouldn’t be able to pay Varane anywhere near what he would get in Saudi Arabia or MLS.

Varane left Lens as a teenager but has stayed in touch with the club.

“If Varane wants to return, we will welcome him with open arms,” their manager Franck Haise said back in November.

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