Chelsea have suffered a blow in their pursuit of Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, as new Los Blancos manager Rafael Benitez is eager for the youngster to become the Spanish giants’ first-choice centre-back.
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According to Spanish newspaper Marca, Benitez believes that the France international is ready to become a regular in defence at the Santiago Bernabeu, and could be set to replace Pepe as the first-choice partner to Sergio Ramos.
The newspaper states that having spent the last four years playing second fiddle to Sergio Ramos and Pepe, the former Liverpool manager reckons that Varane has earned himself a starting place ahead of one of the experienced duo.
Marca also state that the 22-year-old had begun to feel unsettled with his role in Madrid, and his name had been linked to Premier League champions Chelsea. The Frenchman is rated at £40 million, and Blues manager Jose Mourinho had been considering a bid in the summer window [via the Daily Star]. The west London outfit were heavily linked with Varane in January, but a move never materialised [via the Express] – and is unlikely to happen this summer.
The former Lens star excelled under Carlo Ancelotti last season and could be set to replace Pepe in central defence. Varane played more minutes (3047) that the Portuguese (2765) in the 2014-15 campaign and the Frenchman looks to be the 32-year-old’s direct replacement.
The Merengues defender is rated highly for his blistering pace and this, combined with his reading of the game, makes him one of the most exciting defenders in Europe.
Benitez, therefore, is not believed to be interested in cashing in.