Varane closes in on Real Madrid move

Reported Manchester United target Raphael Varane is on the verge of signing for Real Madrid, according to Lens president Gervais Martel.

The 18-year-old has also been the subject of an offer from Paris Saint-Germain and was thought to be firmly on Sir Alex Ferguson’s radar. However, a switch to the Spanish giants now appears imminent.

“It’s not done officially with Real Madrid but talks are on track and hopefully it will happen,” Martel told the official RC Lens website.

“Madrid directors were very good to us, they have been speaking with the player. There is nothing that could go wrong.”

The news may come as a blow to the Manchester United hierarchy, but following the recent arrival of Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers for £16.5 million and the emergence of Chris Smalling as back-up to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, opportunities would have been at a premium for Varane at Old Trafford.

First-team football was said to be a key factor in the young centre-back’s decision and Martel, who also highlighted the influence of Zinedine Zidane on the transfer, believes he will be a big success at the Bernabeu.

“Some believe that Raphael will not play there. I can tell you he will not go to Real Madrid to repaint the changing rooms! Raphael is intelligent, everybody knows it," he said.

"I want to emphasise the speaker was exceptional, in this case Zinedine Zidane."

By Tim Groves