Manchester United have four Raphael Varane transfer alternatives to consider

The MEN understands Man United have opened talks to sign Raphael Varane but data can reveal other alternative options. Finding Harry Maguire...

The MEN understands Man United have opened talks to sign Raphael Varane but data can reveal other alternative options.


Finding Harry Maguire an adequate centre-back partner is high on Manchester United's list of priorities in the transfer window.

There are understandable doubts over the suitability of Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe to help United forge a formidable backline to mount a serious Premier League title charge next term, and the club needs to get its recruitment right.

"Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles," Sir Alex Ferguson once said and United need to listen to his advice this summer and sign a world-class centre-back - one such candidate who could fit that profile is Real Madrid's Raphael Varane.

The MEN understands United have initiated talks to sign Varane, but which other candidates in that position should they consider?

Using statistical analysis from this season, we've taken a closer look...

The MEN understands United are considering making a move for Pau Torres after the Villarreal centre-back enjoyed a more than respectable campaign, notably helping his side triumph over the Reds in the Europa League final in Gdansk.

"For now I only think as a player dressed in yellow, I see my life linked to this club. For now I have a contract here [until June 2024] and I do not see beyond this final or what may come this summer," Torres said before that game, though.

Regardless, if United were to test Villarreal's resolve for Torres, 24, it's worth noting he's averaged more ball recoveries (6.1), passes (62) and blocks (0.8) per game than Varane in La Liga this season, although both players have similar profiles - Varane is ahead on other metrics.

So, considering that, the signing of Torres could be shrewd business as it's reported he could be available for just €30m.

Cristian Romero

From all four candidates on this shortlist, Cristian Romero immediately catches the eye - his stats from this season are outstanding.

Romero, 23, is still technically a Juventus player but he's never actually made an appearance for the Old Lady and he joined Atalanta on loan for this season. The Italian club are now looking to take advantage of their option to make that deal permanent.

That isn't surprising, but it's claimed Atalanta could sanction an exit for Romero straight away for a profit, with United said to be interested.

Reports in Italy claim that United have enquired about Romero's availability, with the Argentine central defender having averaged more ball recoveries (8.4), tackles (2.3), aerial duels won (4) and interceptions (3.4) per game than any player, including Varane, on the this shortlist.

Romero received Serie A's best defender award this season, following in the footsteps of some of the greats that have played in Italy's top flight.

Kalidou Koulibaly

City have been heavily linked with Kalidou Koulibaly over the years and it's not difficult to see why.

The Senegalese centre-half has built a reputation as one of Europe's finest centre-backs for Napoli, but with his side failing to qualify for the Champions League again this season, it could perhaps be the time to finally move to another club.

It is said that Koulibaly, 29, could be available for €60million, and with his contract set to expire in 2023, Napoli might be open to negotiations, as they've previously held firm and demanded a hefty fee for the central defender in years gone by.

Koulibaly's form has dropped slightly, though, and he doesn't stand up on the required defensive metrics like he used to, but he has averaged more tackles (1.5), blocks (1.1) and passes (71) than Varane, although his statistics are inferior to Romero's, for example.

Jerome Boateng

Jerome Boateng is available on a free transfer this summer after leaving Bayern Munich and United could definitely do worse.

While Boateng is now entering the autumn of his career at 32 years old, he could prove to be a more than an adequate partner for Maguire, if United are unable to find a long-term solution in the window - reminiscent of the Edinson Cavani transfer.

He's averaged the most passes per game (75) than any other player on this shortlist, showing he's still a comfortable ball-playing centre-half, while he also boasts similar statistics to Varane on the whole.

Boateng turned down Jose Mourinho's offer to join United three years ago, but it now seems Solskjaer could pull the deal off.

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