Manchester United newcomer Raphael Varane was reportedly unveiled with his second choice squad number yesterday – because Phil Jones refused to give him the number four shirt.
Varane was paraded around Old Trafford ahead of United’s Premier League opener against Leeds, much to the delight of the packed out crowd. The Frenchman received a very warm reception upon his emergence from the tunnel. And it went on to be a good day all round for the Red Devils.
Varane watched on as his new side kicked off their 2021/22 campaign in style. Bruno Fernandes’ hat-trick and strikes from Mason Greenwood and Fred led them to a 5-1 victory.
The centre-back also got to witness his fellow countryman Paul Pogba assist four of the five goals. The feat prompted Fernandes to lay down the gauntlet to the his teammate.
The pre-match unveiling was the ideal way to get the United fans pumped for the game. But it could have been slightly different.
On the back of the shirt given to Varane as he walked out to be introduced was the number 19.
The 28-year-old opted for the number that was occupied by Amad Diallo. The winger, who is set to leave on loan and possibly to another Premier League club, was thus given number 16.
However, this is only because Varane’s request to wear the number he wears for his nation was not approved by Jones.
That’s according to the MEN. They report the fresh acquisition wanted the no.4 but had to settle for the alternative.
Jones, 29, has held the shirt since for a decade since joining the club from Blackburn Rovers.
Coincidentally, Sir Alex Ferguson was close to moving for Varane, who was then a Lens player, at that time.
He was snapped up by Real Madrid, though, and Fergie went after Jones instead.
And now, ten years on, Jones is said to have refused to part ways with his number. The former England international has two years remaining on his United contract.
He has not played for the club since January 2020 and now finds himself fifth in the Red Devils’ centre-back pecking order.
Varane’s compatriot reportedly off
Meanwhile, a report claims midfielder Pogba has no intention of signing a new United deal and will instead join Real for free next summer.
The 28-year-old has now entered the final 12 months of his Old Trafford deal.
He will be free to speak to foreign clubs in January and has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain as well as Los Blancos. Lionel Messi’s arrival at the Parc des Princes seems to have ended PSG’s hopes of landing him this summer.