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Raphael Varane in 'final stages' of sealing a move to Manchester United

Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane is wanted by Manchester United (Andrew Matthews/Empics)

Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane is wanted by Manchester United (Andrew Matthews/Empics)

Kevin Palmer

It was a deal that seemed out of reach for Manchester United at the start of this summer, but Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane is now closing in on a move to Old Trafford.

The latest news from the Spanish end of negotiations suggests Varane has made a decision to move to Manchester, with personal terms now agreed for the 28-year-old France international to join United.

If United succeed in signing Varane on the back of their deal to capture Jadon Sancho from Borrusia Dortmund, two of the club's prime targets will have been snared and the second of those will come as a surprise.

While Varane was always United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's top defensive target this summer, there was a feeling that he would sign a new contract with Real Madrid or allow his current one-year deal to run down before he secured a free transfer next summer.

That belief was strengthened when Sergio Ramos brought down the curtain on his long reign as Real Madrid's defensive leader, leaving Varane as his natural successor in that role.

Yet Varane's decision to change his agent in recent months fuelled the theory that he is lining up a move away from Madrid and United have always been a club on his radar.

A huge fan of United great Rio Ferdinand in his youth, Varane has always been an admirer of the Old Trafford club and now it seems he will turn that affection into a transfer.

The final pieces of the deal are being finalised, with Real Madrid now accepting they cannot keep Varane and the player apparently keen to move to United rather than Paris Saint-Germain.

Suggestions that Chelsea may have made a late effort to sign Varane have been dismissed by sources close to the deal and now it seems as if Varane will form what has the potential to be to be a powerful defensive partnership with Harry Maguire at United.

There are suggestions that Solskjaer is considering switching to a defensive line of three, with U nited's interest in England wing-back Kieran Trippier understandable if he is keen to change his formation this season.

There is a feel that the switch to a back three could allow Paul Pogba to play with more freedom in midfield, but there are still some doubts over the future of the France midfielder, who has just one year left on his current United contract.

Selling Pogba to Paris Saint-Germain or Juventus could fund a large chunk of United's incoming transfer, but that debate will only get underway after the player and his agent make their intentions clear in upcoming contract talks.

For now, all the talk surrounds United incomings, with Sancho and Varane two high profile arrivals that could be confirmed in the next few days.

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