Raphael Varane could be set to return to the Manchester United defence after a groin injury that's kept him out since the Nations League final - and according to the stats, Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's new signing is already key to keeping his backline together.
Not only have United conceded fewer goals, won more games and racked up more points with the Frenchman in the team, they've averaged more possession in the games that he's played, perhaps demonstrating at partly how much of an asset Varane is on the ball.
With Harry Maguire suffering with injury too already this season and being rushed back for unconvincing performances against Atalanta and Liverpool, could the Red Devils lean on the invaluable experience of serial winner Varane in the coming weeks, as they try to stop the recent decline in form?
Varane arrived at Old Trafford in the summer for just £36m, having won four Champions League titles and three La Liga championships in his decade at Real Madrid - not to mention a World Cup in 2018 with his national side. Solskjaer had seen the Frenchman as the last piece of his defence, replacing Victor Lindelof in United's best possible line-up alongside England captain Maguire.
But United's shaky start to the season has come with a host of problems across the pitch. The side have looked poor in the press, with marquee buy Cristiano Ronaldo criticised by some, while the midfield of Scott McTominay and Fred has come under fire. Paul Pogba, too, has received flack for his workrate and the likes of Jadon Sancho and Jesse Lingard have been peripheral figures in the side, despite their preseason tipping for big things this campaign.
United's biggest issue against Liverpool, however, was just how easy Jurgen Klopp's men cut through them in defence. The Reds went 4-0 up at half-time before putting the handbreak on in a fairly uneventful second half, with both Maguire and Luke Shaw were roundly lambasted by fans and pundits for their roles in Reds goals.
While Varane may not completely solve the myriad of issues that currently cloud Old Trafford, his leadership, composure and experience at the back should be a welcome return. United face Harry Kane and Son Heung-min this weekend, after all...
Subscribe to FourFourTwo today and save over a third on standard price.
BALLON d'OR Who's the best player in the world?
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. He is a keen player of the Football Manager series and creates Twitter accounts for his Fantasy Premier League team every year, before losing interest in his team every September.
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.