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Raphael Varane announces Manchester United exit

Raphael Varane announces Man United exit
© Reuters
Experienced centre-back Raphael Varane confirms that he is leaving Manchester United when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Raphael Varane has announced that he is leaving Manchester United at the end of the season when his contract expires.

The former Real Madrid man established a reputation as one of the best centre-backs in the world before joining the Red Devils in 2021, having won four Champions League crowns with Los Blancos in addition to the 2018 World Cup with France.

Man United shelled out €40m (£34.4m) to bring Varane to Old Trafford three years ago, since when he has formed an integral part of the Red Devils' backline, making 93 appearances and scoring two goals.

Varane boasts an EFL Cup winners' medal and FA Cup runners-up medal from his time in Manchester and has played another 30 matches this season, although injuries and competition for places have restricted him to 16 Premier League starts.

It was initially reported that the 31-year-old had signed a four-year deal upon his arrival in Manchester in 2021, but he had actually agreed to a three-year contract with the option of a further 12 months.

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

Varane hails Sir Jim Ratcliffe's "great strategy" in exit announcement

As such, the ex-Lens youngster will see his terms expire at the end of June, and Man United decided against triggering his extension until 2025, and he has now confirmed that his Old Trafford chapter will soon close.

"To you guys, supporters of Manchester United. It's been an amazing few years to play for this special club and wearing that shirt," the centre-back said in a video on social media.

"The first time I went to Old Trafford as a Man United player, it was insane. The atmosphere was amazing. I fell in love with the club, with the fans. You have to play for Man United to understand what that represents.

"For my kids, it's home here. It's going to be a special place for me, for life. When the fans go to Wembley, it's something they remember for life. To share that moment with them as well was absolutely amazing."

Varane also looked ahead to the club's future under Sir Jim Ratcliffe and waxed lyrical about the new owners' "plan" and "strategy", adding: "Despite the fact we had a difficult season, I'm very positive for the future.

"The new owners are coming with a clear plan and great strategy. I'll see you at Old Trafford to say goodbye for the last game at home this season, and it's going to be a very emotional day for me, for sure."

What next for Varane ahead of Man United exit?

Before Varane officially severs ties with Manchester United, the Frenchman - out with a muscle injury since the 4-3 loss to Chelsea on April 4 - is pushing to be available for the final day of the Premier League season on May 19 or the FA Cup final with Manchester City on May 25.

The former France international still has plenty of years left at the top level, although fitness problems may hinder his chances of earning another move to a club of Champions League calibre.

A sensational return to Real Madrid was mooted a few months ago, as Los Blancos will lose Nacho Fernandez when his deal runs out this summer, but a Bernabeu homecoming is not considered realistic at this juncture.

However, Varane is said to be open to going back to boyhood club Lens, whom he represented from 2002 to 2011, while a stint in MLS could also appeal to him, but Saudi Arabian clubs are said to be pushing the hardest for his signature.

Varane is not expected to be available for Wednesday's Premier League clash with Newcastle United, and it remains to be seen whether he will enjoy a Premier League farewell against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Amex on the closing weekend.

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