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Ligue 1 manager confirms interest in signing Manchester United defender

Ligue 1 manager confirms interest in signing Man United defender
© Reuters
Lens manager Franck Haise confirms that he would be interested in bringing departing Manchester United defender Raphael Varane back to his former club.

The manager of a top-half Ligue 1 club has confirmed that he would be interested in working with a departing Manchester United centre-back next season.

Earlier this month, experienced Frenchman Raphael Varane confirmed that he would be leaving the Red Devils at the end of the season, as the club decided against triggering his one-year contract extension.

Varane will leave Old Trafford after giving Erik ten Hag's side three years of service, during which he has made 94 appearances, scoring two goals and providing one assist.

The 31-year-old made his comeback from a muscular injury off the bench against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday, and he is expected to be involved in this weekend's FA Cup final, which will be his last appearance for the club.

Prior to his success with Real Madrid, Varane made his breakthrough in senior football with French outfit Lens, spending 11 years at Les Sang et Or from 2002 to 2011 before joining Los Blancos.

Manchester United's Raphael Varane on August 14, 2023© Reuters

Franck Haise opens door to Varane return

A return to Lens has unsurprisingly been mooted for the Frenchman, as his former club have gone from Ligue 2 strugglers to a European-challenging Ligue 1 outfit in the matter of a few seasons.

Speaking at a recent press conference, Lens head coach Franck Haise said that he would be the "happiest coach" if his side could pull off a Varane reunion, but he is not sure if it will be possible.

"Of course, a possible arrival of Raphael Varane may be of interest to me by his human and gaming qualities. For what it stands for," the 53-year-old explained.

"After that, I am not able to talk about the financial aspects. All the more so since they don't depend on me. If there was a possibility, I would be the happiest coach. But that remains to be demonstrated."

Despite Haise's admission, Varane's salary demands are expected to prove far too steep for his erstwhile employers, as he is believed to be pocketing a weekly wage of £340,000 at Old Trafford, second to Casemiro's £350,000.

What other options are available to Varane?

Manchester United's Raphael Varane pictured in November 2023© Reuters

As a result, a second stint at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis would only be possible if Varane accepts a mammoth pay cut, which is highly unlikely at this stage of his career.

The 31-year-old still has several seasons left in him, but lucrative European offers will likely be few and far between, not helped by the fact that he has endured his fair share of fitness problems this season.

Last year, it was reported that Real Madrid were also considering a surprise reunion with Varane, as Nacho Fernandez will leave the club this summer, while David Alaba is still on the mend from an ACL injury.

Such claims are now believed to be wide of the mark, though, so either MLS or the Saudi Pro League appears to be Varane's most realistic destination this summer.

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