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'Loved' Varane targets long Madrid stay

Raphael Varane insists he never entertained the idea of leaving Real Madrid during the close-season and wants to remain at the Santiago Bernabeu for the foreseeable future.

The France defender lost his place in the starting XI following the departure of head coach Rafael Benitez in January, with Zinedine Zidane preferring to partner Pepe alongside Sergio Ramos.

A lack of playing time led to increased reports that Varane may be tempted to join Manchester United, where he would be reunited with former Madrid coach Jose Mourinho.

However, the 23-year-old is in pre-season training with the European champions and says that everything is in place for him to develop as a player in the Spanish capital.

"Yes, I want to stay here this year. I think everything is here for me to continue my progression," he told a news conference. 

"I feel loved by the club and by the fans who have always treated me almost like a youth product.

"The best players are here, everything is here for me to keep improving and I'm really enthusiastic about improving. The best is still ahead of me."

Asked if it was difficult to reject interest from elsewhere, Varane responded: "In life you take decisions, I spoke with the club, I spoke with Zizou and I trust that I'm going to keep improving here and the best of me is still to come.

"In life you take decisions and I've chosen to stay here because I want to be here and I want to be in Madrid."

Last season ended in personal disappointment for Varane as a hamstring injury saw him miss out on the Champions League final against rivals Atletico Madrid and Euro 2016 with hosts France.

But the centre-back is keen to put that frustration behind him.

"Finishing the season without playing in the Champions League final and the European Championship is difficult for me it's true," he said.

"But I want to leave it behind me, I want to move forward and I think that I can keep improving. I love being at a club like Real Madrid, I want to stay here and for a long time."