Manchester United are hoping to make Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane their next high profile signing of the summer after Jadon Sancho, with the four-time Champions League winner potentially the final piece of the jigsaw at the back.
Harry Maguire has done well since joining United for a world record £80m fee in 2019, but could still be so much more if he has the right partner alongside. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly haven’t been it, but fans are excited that Varane absolutely could be given his quality and proven success.
United supporters are already dreaming about Varane lining up in the back four next to Maguire and flanked by Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
Varane has long worn the number five shirt for Real Madrid, taking it over from Fabio Coentrao in 2016. But that jersey is already occupied by Maguire at Old Trafford.
Varane had previously worn number two for four seasons at Real. That is also occupied at Old Trafford, having been used by Victor Lindelof in 2017. Even though Varane is expected to take Lindelof’s place in the team, the Swede will remain an important squad player.
The other shirt number that Varane has been closely associated with during his career is four, having worn it almost exclusively for France since he made his senior international debut in 2013.
That might actually be feasible at United. It remains occupied by Phil Jones, who has had it ever since he arrived at Old Trafford a decade ago, but the 29-year-old has only played eight times since the start of the 2019/20 campaign and not at all last season.
Jones, who is still under contract to 2023, would have to give up his shirt for Varane to have it as he is unlikely to find a willing club given how knee injuries have blighted his career recently.
In the event that Jones is unwilling to give up his shirt, others available to Varane would 12, 24 and 25, all of which happen to feature digits he has associations with anyway.