Manchester United officials were left ‘surprised’ by the speed at which they managed to agree a deal with Real Madrid over the transfer of centre-back Raphael Varane, allowing the club to make an official announcement on Tuesday evening.
United have confirmed that an agreement is in place to sign Varane subject to the formalities of personal terms and a successful medical. The initial fee for the 28-year-old is thought to be around £34m, which could rise to £41m if conditional add-ons are triggered.
For a player of Varane’s reputation, striking a deal for that price has been widely praised, especially when United’s recruitment department have often been criticised in recent years for failing to close deals in an efficient and timely manner.
When it came to negotiating a price for Varane, The Athletic reports that even some of the United officials involved in the deal were ‘surprised’ by how quickly it was concluded.
It is said that even a few days before the agreement was struck, chief negotiator Matt Judge had informed some of the club’s alternative targets that a deal for Varane didn’t look likely.
United, who will spread out payment of the guaranteed £34m, were apparently prepared to pay more than they initially offered. But Real are seemingly so keen on getting the cash in they accepted it without the expected back and forth, which ultimately significantly sped up the process.
The Old Trafford club decided against pursuing a centre-back last summer, yet the opportunity to sign Varane came about when he began considering his future in Madrid, with his contract up in 2022. His representatives later made it clear he wanted to play in the Premier League and join United.
The 28-year-old, who is expected to sign a long-term contract with United until at least 2025, didn’t want to sign a new deal with Real, who were well aware of the importance of selling him this summer in a way that they will struggle to with the likes of Gareth Bale, Marcelo or Isco.
The opportunity was created by the various circumstances coming together and United were well placed to take full advantage, landing a player they first wanted ten long years ago.