Man Utd preference over Varane detail signals current star’s time is up

Man Utd-bound French centre-half Raphael Varane during his Real Madrid days

A current Man Utd first-teamer could be on the move after the club’s preference over Raphael Varane’s squad number hinted at an exit. 

The French centre-half is drawing ever nearer to officially being confirmed as a Man Utd player. Thursday’s news revealed Varane had arrived in Manchester after a visa issue delayed his passage. He must first undergo a period of quarantine before his medical can be undertaken. However, it now appears all that stands in his way is the clock.

Varane is expected to walk straight into the starting eleven to form a hotly-anticipated partnership with Harry Maguire.

But one aspect of Varane’s looming arrival that is not a formality is what squad number he will take.

According to Caught Offside, Man Utd have a preference in mind, though the number they desire is already taken.

Citing a senior club source, they reveal Man Utd hope to hand Varane Phil Jones’ number four shirt.

Jones has not featured for the senior side amid a raft of injuries since an FA Cup outing versus Tranmere in January, 2020.

Phil Jones, Man Utd

One line of thinking would be that Jones could simply assume another number. However, the revelation backs up prior speculation that Jones’ time at Old Trafford could soon conclude.

A report in July revealed Man Utd were considering terminating Jones’ contract despite still having two years left to run.

Jones’ chances of regular game-time this year will be next to nil. By ripping up his contract, it would give a leg up to potential suitors in free agency.

Transfer Chatter - Messi race begins, Arsenal plotting double swoop and Manchester United's bleak Trippier hopes

The breaking news on Thursday evening ignited the beginning of the race for free agent Lionel Messi, Arsenal are preparing a double swoop from Yorkshire and Manchester United have bleak hopes of signing Kieran Trippier this transfer window, all in today's transfer chatter.

Newcastle and West Ham have both been linked with the defender who could potentially be a smart pick-up. A free agent signing would be cost-effective, though Caught Offside suggest a loan move could yet be on the cards.

Jones has still not yet reached the age of 30. And pending a clean bill of health, could yet have years left in the tank at Premier League level

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Mooted Pogba swap a “backward step”

Meanwhile, Manchester United would be taking a step in the wrong direction by swapping Paul Pogba for Saul Niguez in midfield, according to one pundit.

Atletico Madrid star Saul has reportedly emerged as a United transfer target amid Pogba’s uncertainty. The Frenchman has entered the final year of his deal, but no signs of an extension have emerged. In fact, he has supposedly rejected the offer of a new deal in the hope of attracting Paris Saint-Germain interest.

The Telegraph have reported that the Red Devils expect Pogba to start the season at Old Trafford. As it stands, though, he will be free to seal a pre-transfer agreement with an overseas club from January onwards.

As such, Saul – who has been at Atletico his whole career – could become a firm target for United.

According to former Premier League footballer Carlton Palmer, though, swapping Pogba for Saul would be a bad move. “I think that’s a backward step if you’re letting Pogba go and bringing in somebody like that,” the pundit told Transfer Tavern.

“Listen, he’s technically very good and he’s a good football player, but he’s not on the same level as Pogba. So for me, it’s a non-starter.”

READ MORE: Lingard hints at new Man Utd targets after stirring up West Ham storm