It was a race Manchester United (opens in new tab) had appeared to be winning, with the Frenchman heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford this summer.
The Manchester Evening News (opens in new tab) reported last week that United were close to agreeing terms with Varane, but, according to Marca (via football.london) (opens in new tab), Chelsea are keen on the World Cup-winning centre-back.
Should the Blues manage to pull off a deal for the 28-year-old, it would have echoes of the summer of 2015, when they signed Pedro from Barcelona, seemingly right from under United's noses.
While Varane ought to be available at a relatively low price, given that he has just a year left to run on his contract at the Bernabeu, you'd have to say that United's need to strengthen in the centre of defence is greater than Chelsea's.
Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof may be an excellent first choice pairing in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's back four, but with Eric Bailly injury prone and Axel Tuanzebe linked with a move away (opens in new tab) - and Phil Jones (yes, he's still there) not having featured for almost 18 months - lack of depth could be a big issue, especially if United are to challenge for the title next season.
Thomas Tuchel, on the other hand, can call on Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma and Cesar Azpilicueta for his favoured back three. Would the addition of Varane, as much as he's one of the best in the world in his position, not be somewhat superfluous?
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