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17th Jul 2018

Phil Jones is the reason Manchester United didn’t sign Raphael Varane

What might have been

Darragh Murphy

One is a World Cup winner with four Champions League titles to his name. The other makes very funny faces.

In the summer of 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to bring a promising, young centre-half to Manchester United and his shortlist included both Raphael Varane and Phil Jones.

Writing in his 2015 book Leading, Ferguson admitted that he was very keen to sign Varane, who had impressed in his debut season for Lens.

“In 2011 I hurtled down to Lille. Zinedine Zidane got wind of this and somehow scooped him up for Real Madrid,” Ferguson wrote.

Apparently though, the fact that Ferguson had already signed Jones from Blackburn on a five-year deal was the deciding factor for Varane, who has since developed into one of the world’s most reliable defenders.

Amid additional interest from Paris Saint-Germain at the time, Varane told French outlet L’Equipe how he arrived at the decision to move to Real Madrid.

“Manchester United? They had just signed Phil Jones in my position,” Varane said.

“PSG? The project there wasn’t clear. The Qataris had only just arrived and it was all very vague.

“My first reaction when Real wanted to sign me was not, ‘Of course I will go.’ I only made my decision when I knew that the coach wanted me to play in the first team.”

Former Real Madrid manager and current United boss, Jose Mourinho, revealed that Varane had “one foot at Manchester United” but the competition for places with the arrival of Jones seemingly turned him off that particular move.

At 25 years old, Varane has won more than most players could ever dream of accomplishing in an entire career.

Can he head the ball two inches off the ground though???