Could this be the signing that takes United to the next level?
Last season, Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher were discussing what it would take for Manchester United to turn into genuine title contenders. The general consensus was that things were okay going forward, and that it was the defence that needed the most work. Neville’s comments from five months ago would suggest that Man United signing Raphael Varane is exactly the right thing for the club to do.
Back in February of this year, Neville and Carragher were discussing United’s defensive woes, specifically the problems that Harry Maguire brings to the table.
Gary Neville on Manchester United’s defence
Neville said: “They’re not going to turf Maguire out. They’ve invested £80 million. He’s played every minute. He’s the rock. He’s the one that they’re going to build the defence around.
“What you’ve got to do is find the partner for him, and that’s got to be somebody of the physicality and profile of Eric Bailly. Somebody who’s quick, good in the air, strong, can cover Maguire one on one, and also can get them up the pitch and allow them to play a little bit higher.”
Varane seems to tick every single box that Neville feels need to be ticked, and could well change United’s defensive structure entirely.
Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville on United’s defence
Chiming in on the conversation, Carragher said: “Without a doubt, they need to get a centre-back who has got a bit more physical presence.
“You look at Lindelof, and you think you could bully him. Unfortunately, he’s not the biggest.”
Neville then interrupted to make a point that resonated massively with United fans. He said: “I want to make a point on Lindelof. Lindelof’s problem is Maguire. And Maguire’s problem is Lindelof.
“I think that if you put Lindelof beside van Dijk at Liverpool and he was his partner… I think he’s a really good player. I think he understands the game, he reads the game, he’s a good defender. If he was alongside a Rio Ferdinand or a van Dijk, he’d make a great pair.
“The problem is he’s alongside somebody who isn’t the most mobile in Harry Maguire. I think that’s the problem Lindelof’s got – they’ve invested £80 million in Maguire, so they’re going to need to put somebody beside him.”