What Sergio Ramos Real Madrid exit means for future of Manchester United target Raphael Varane
Man Utd have launched an opening bid to sign Raphael Varane as they look to strengthen their defence in the summer transfer window
Manchester United still have every right to dream of signing Raphael Varane this summer, even though his centre-back partner Sergio Ramos has announced his exit from Real Madrid.
The Spaniard officially confirmed the end of his 16-year spell in the Spanish capital in a statement on Wednesday, with Real set for significant changes to their squad in the summer transfer window.
While the Spanish giants are keen to try and keep fellow centre-back Varane at the club on a new deal, they also don't want to repeat their current Ramos situation, with the Frenchman set to become a free agent once his current contract expires in a year's time.
Therefore they are still very much open to selling Varane this summer with president Florentino Perez intent on obtaining a fee if there is no chance of a dramatic change of mind from the defender.
MEN Sport reported on Thursday that United have already made a £50million offer for the Real Madrid defender but the Spanish club is holding out for £80m.
So what next for the former Lens defender and boyhood United fan? There appear to be three possible outcomes.
Option one - A fee is agreed this summer
If United want to stay in control of the situation then they need to agree a fee this summer.
Despite seeing their opening bid rejected they remain in dialogue with Real and will seek a compromise over the fee, but are reluctant to meet the £80m valuation given he'd cost nothing in a year's time.
With the Spanish side still looking to cash-in and Solskjaer desperate to sign a new centre-back there is confidence an agreement can be reached, though United can't afford to drag out negotiations.
Varane is an immense defender and is also attracting interest from Paris Saint-Germain, if they make a more attractive offer then Real will have no loyalty to wait for United to react.
Option two - Varane signs a new Real deal
Given the La Liga club have debts of €901m and president Perez has stressed they are unable to finance any marquee moves this summer, there might be pressure on Real to make one last lucrative contract offer to Varane.
Earlier this year he rejected an enticing contract extension that included the club captaincy because he felt there was still a disparity between his salary offer and what his best-paid teammates earn.
With Ramos out of the door there might be a way of making on last-ditch attempt to keep him at the club rather than having to find a way of replacing him.
David Alaba has arrived from Bayern Munich on a free transfer to bolster their options, though they might need more than the Austrian if they are to stay competitive without their two most senior centre-backs next season.
Option three - He leaves as a free agent next year
This would arguably be the worst outcome for all parties given Real would miss out an an enormous cash injection and United would not necessarily be leading the race to sign him in a year's time.
While there is some logic in waiting a year to sign a World Cup winner for free Solskjaer can't afford to wait any longer before he significantly strengthens his defence - with Varane arguably a summer addition who could suddenly make the team into title challengers.
There is also little interest for the French international to be put into this situation given he would still feel undervalued on his current terms in the Spanish capital.
If a deal can't be secured this summer United will themselves need to look elsewhere, something which could rule out a move for Varane next summer if a new recruit manages to strengthen the back line instead of him.