Zinedine Zidane played a key role in Raphael Varane signing for Real Madrid instead of Man Utd a decade ago but the defender could ironically now play a role in the coach’s move to Old Trafford
Zinedine Zidane enjoyed special relationships with a lot of his players at Real Madrid with the Frenchman renowned for his man-management ability and instantly commanding immense respect.
This was particularly true with Raphael Varane, as Zidane had played a key role in his move to the Spanish capital a decade previously and ironically, taking him away from the clutches of Manchester United.
This much has been admitted by Sir Alex Ferguson in his 2015 book Leading: “I hurtled down on the train from Euston to Lille to sign the young French defender Raphael Varane.
“David Gill was getting into the finer points of the contract with Lens when Zinedine Zidane got wind of this and somehow scooped him up for Real Madrid from under our noses.”
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Zidane had been appointed as Madrid’s new sporting director that summer, having previously been a close advisor with the club – then coached by Jose Mourinho.
All French players of a certain age held Zidane in an almost reverential status due to his exploits with the France national team, whom he led to World Cup glory in 1998 and then European Championship success two years later.
His first order of business in his role of recruitment at Real Madrid was to secure the signing of Varane from Ligue 1 club Lens, despite heavy interest from Manchester United.
It would take United a decade to finally secure the signature of the decorated central defender, who had won four Champions League titles across his glittering career in Spain.
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Varane’s exit from Real Madrid came in the aftermath of Zidane’s departure, with the two having shared a close professional relationship across the coach’s two spells in the club’s hotseat.
Upon hearing the news of Zidane’s exit this summer, Varane told reporters: “My first reaction is that I feel proud for the last ten years.
“He took me from Lens to Real Madrid and I have learned a lot alongside him.
“He is a coach that has a human side.
“He is a source of inspiration, not only for me but for many players who have met him.
“Seeing him leave is strange for me and for an entire generation of players at Real Madrid.
“It has been a pleasure to work with him, and it would be nice for it to happen again in the future.
“He is a great coach and a great human being.”
Varane’s comments that he would love to once again work with Zidane are telling and indicative of the status and esteem in which the coach is viewed by elite players.
There is a sense of irony that United were thwarted in their attempts to land the central defender a decade ago but there are now suggestions that Varane could potentially play a part in Zidane’s move to Old Trafford.