Manchester United have snapped up many transformative players over the years. From Bruno Fernandes to Wayne Rooney, Edwin van der Sar to Eric Cantona. And, in Real Madrid star Raphael Varane, they seem like they’re about to sign a player with the potential to be another.
Manchester United have done solidly, if unspectacularly, since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took over from Jose Mourinho in December 2018.
That same season, the Red Devils finished sixth. A bad sixth, too, winning just two of their final nine matches.
However, since then, they’ve ticked along. Consecutive top four finishes is a good sign, with consistency everything in football.
Last term could, and should, have been even more special. Had they won the Europa League final against Villarreal, it would have ended a four-year wait for silverware.
Instead, fans will have to wait another 12 months.
The good news is, however, that the Glazers seem serious about the club again. Perhaps impacted by the European Super League debacle, and the protests that followed, they’re primed to back Solskjaer.
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Jadon Sancho has already been signed, with the club just waiting to officially announce the 21-year-old.
And they’re hopeful Varane will follow the England international to Old Trafford, with confidence building behind the scenes.
Eurosport’s Dean Jones has claimed United ‘can see the finish line’ when it comes to the 28-year-old, telling The Football Terrace podcast: “Manchester United can see the finish line on this deal,” Jones said.
“And that’s the place they’ve dreamed of being in recent weeks.
“They honestly were never sure it would go this far. And I spoke to someone over the weekend and I could really tell that the optimism, and the hope, were really there.
“This week was always going to be a big week because it’s a telling time for Madrid to get involved in this.
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“And United, obviously, know the player is keen at this point. They finally believe the player was serious about coming to United.
“And now Real Madrid have been informed that is the case. Obviously, now, it’s all about a fee.”
Should United sign Varane, he has the potential to be another Fernandes.
After all, the Portugal international was the last transformative player to arrive at Old Trafford, touching down from Sporting Lisbon 18 months ago.
At that time, the Red Devils were in the mire. A 2-0 defeat to Burnley, when anger spilled over towards the Glazers, made it a horrendous night at the office.
But then came Fernandes. Then came improvement.
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The Portugal international almost single-handedly propelled them into the Premier League top four that season. It was fitting that, on the final day of the season in a crunch match with Leicester, he was on target.
In the time since, United have been considerably better.
Fernandes helped the club to second in the Premier League table, as well as spearheading their charge to the Europa League final. He, out of all the players in the squad, deserved a winners medal.
And Varane certainly has the ability to make a similar impact at the Theatre of Dreams.
United have lacked a world-class centre-back pairing since the days where Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were coupled together, helping the club win five Premier League titles.
And Varane, playing alongside Maguire, has the potential to be special.
It’s a partnership that has the potential to be the best in the world. Maguire showed at Euro 2020 that, despite his critics, he’s a wonderful asset to have.
In the years since Ferguson walked away, five centre-backs have touched down.
But Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Maguire (by himself) haven’t ever come close to replicating the same form Ferdinand and Vidic did.
With Varane alongside the England international, however, things could change.
And while the Sancho deal is blockbuster, this is an arrival fully deserving of the Hollywood treatment.