Victor Lindelof has a big challenge at Manchester United.
Raphael Varane’s arrival means the Swede is no longer a guaranteed starter at Old Trafford. But that could be the motivation Lindelof needs to prove his worth.
The centre-back is often imperious for his country. But United’s £31m man (BBC) has not always showed that form in Manchester.
Despite racking up 163 appearances for United, he is yet to win over every supporter. Some felt Harry Maguire needed a stronger partner and so it proved, with Varane arriving this summer.
The Frenchman was outstanding on his debut and should play regularly alongside United’s skipper. That leaves Lindelof on the outside looking in.
The games are coming thick and fast for United and Lindelof could start the upcoming Champions League game and the League Cup clash later this month.
A match against Young Boys may be the ideal time to rest Varane and give Lindelof a chance. If he doesn’t make that one, he should feature in the first domestic cup game of the campaign.
Taking up the challenge
Whenever Lindelof starts, he will need to bring his international form to United. At his best, the Swede is a great defender, and he will have to be that good week in, week out if he wants to be anything more than backup this season.
Varane and Maguire already looks like the partnership United have been crying out for. Where that leaves Lindelof, only time will tell.
But we saw again this month what he can do for Sweden. He excelled in a 2-1 victory against Spain and, while his last game of the international break ended in defeat, he often saves his best for his country.
That may be because, in part, the pressure is off. The spotlight at United is brighter than. But he cannot afford to struggle anymore.
Varane and Maguire will play more often than not. And United’s ambition in the Champions League may mean Lindelof doesn’t get a runout until later this month if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer chooses to start strong.
However, Lindelof will want to fight for a starting spot and it is going to be fun seeing him react when he does finally start again.