Manchester United secured a huge signing this summer with the recruitment of Raphael Varane.
The France international is a four-times Champions League winner who adds vital experience and quality to the backline.
So how is it going? Collectively, Manchester United’s defence is not operating as the coaching staff and supporters desire.
United are on the worst defensive home run in 50 years, conceding in the last nine games at Old Trafford. But it’s important to note, Varane has only played in three of these.
Varane kept a clean sheet on his debut away at Wolves. In the six matches which followed, United have conceded in each of them.
This isn’t necessarily a reflection on Varane. At all. United’s defence has been disrupted during this time with the injury to Harry Maguire, and now he is building a new partnership alongside Victor Lindelof.
There have been very fine lines. In the four league games United have played since the Wolves game, the club have conceded one goal in each game. Small margins for error, like the farcical goal conceded against Everton, are not reflective of Varane’s overall play.
What do the numbers say?
Varane is performing strongly since his £34 million transfer from Real Madrid.
Numbers from FBRef.com support this. Varane leads Manchester United in interceptions already in the Premier League this season with 11, more than Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Paul Pogba (both on 10).
Varane has made 35 clearances, second only to Harry Maguire (43).
The Frenchman has made six tackles, second only among defenders to Luke Shaw (7).
Varane has made 11 successful blocks, second only behind Wan-Bissaka (16).
He has also won 15 aerial duels, second only in the team to Harry Maguire (18).
Individual work outperforms collective results
As far as Varane goes, he is not doing anything wrong. He looks calm in possession when he plays and he has not been at fault for any of the goals United have conceded.
The Frenchman is adjusting to the intensity of the Premier League and he is doing well.
The team’s results defensively don’t reflect how well Varane has played, but that should change as the season progresses.
Indeed it should be noted that without Varane, United’s results could have been a lot worse during this up and down start to the season.
Right now United should be encouraged by Varane’s performances and once Harry Maguire returns alongside him, the backline should start improving.
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