Raphael Varane has hailed the leadership qualities of Paul Pogba, who helped him choose to join Manchester United this summer.
Pogba and Varane are now teammates for club and country, although it remains to be seen how long that association will last. Pogba, of course, is out of contract at Man Utd at the end of the season. But for now at least, they are sharing a pitch both for the Red Devils and France.
Varane joined Man Utd in August after a decade-long spell with Real Madrid. The centre-back was brought in to become the main partner for captain Harry Maguire in defence.
In turn, having a more solid base should in theory allow the creative players like Pogba further forward to express themselves.
Pogba has started the season brilliantly, with seven assists from seven Premier League appearances so far. His form has been impressive, but Varane thinks he has stood out for his personal qualities as well.
Speaking to Premier League World, the defender revealed how his compatriot helped him pick Man Utd when leaving Madrid this summer.
“He spoke to me about the club, about the atmosphere, about the expectations and, of course, he is a great player,” Varane said.
“He has a great energy, a very positive energy, and he is a leader for the group.”
Varane himself has started five games in the Premier League so far as he continues a process of adaptation.
The World Cup winner in 2018 had never played in the English top-flight before his move to United. Expectations are high, especially with the acquisition of ex-Madrid teammate Cristiano Ronaldo at the other end of the pitch.
But while Ronaldo was already well aware of what it takes to succeed at United, it is a new experience for Varane.
With that in mind, the centre-back is aiming to improve in all aspects so he can help them achieve better things.
“It is a big challenge to be at the top with a club like Man Utd,” Varane added. “I feel people want to win and want to do great things with this club.
“I want to be better, I want to improve and I want to push myself to improve and be better.”
Varane getting used to English football
Of the specific differences between Spanish and English football, Varane has noticed a different “rhythm” in his new surroundings.
“It’s a new challenge for me; it is a different competition and a different mentality,” he continued. “All of it is new for me and I enjoy it every day, so this experience is exciting.
“I think it is different football. The rhythm is very different and you repeat a lot of those rhythms. It is different. You have to be ready because it is intense.
“It is faster, you have more goals and the intensity is very high. You have to be ready for every game.
“It’s big to be about the project, about the ambition of this team, this club, and how we can work together and improve.”
The 28-year-old is aiming to improve his communication skills as well.
“You know I have to connect with my team-mates, the fans and the country where I am – that is important to me,” he said.
“I think this part of my experience to come here to learn and improve. I will speak better and I have to improve. I am still learning.
“Maybe I can do better. I just want to help the team, do my best and improve who I am on the pitch.
“I just want to do my best, that is my objective and my mentality.”