With Erik ten Hag confirming that Raphael Varane was rested for the Carabao Cup quarter-final win against Charlton Athletic, the big question seems who will partner the Frenchman at centre-back against Manchester City.
The 29-year-old could well be partnered by any of Luke Shaw, Lisandro Martinez, Harry Maguire or Victor Lindelof for the derby at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Martinez partnered Varane during United’s chastening 6-3 defeat to Pep Guardiola’s Citizens at the Etihad, at the start of October.
United’s number six and the four-time Champions League winner were Ten Hag’s first choice pairing when fit and available prior to the World Cup.
However, Varane and Martinez haven’t started together since the Frenchman went off in tears against Chelsea in October.
And with Martinez only making his first start since winning the World Cup against Charlton, starting his second Manchester derby is by no means a formality for the 24-year-old.
Manchester United need Raphael Varane to do what he’s failed to deliver since joining club
During the clash at the Etihad in October, Varane, who joined United for an initial £34m from Los Blancos in August 2021, had to be replaced by Lindelof in the 40th minute.
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United’s number 19 failed to recover from an ankle injury he sustained after blocking Phil Foden’s shot.
The World Cup winner was replaced when United were trailing 3-0.
Varane is yet to complete a full 90 minutes against City since making the switch to the Theatre of Dreams last summer.
The 93-time France international missed United’s two defeats to our fierce rivals last season due to a hamstring injury and suffering with a bout of coronavirus.
With a wounded City, who will be looking to bounce straight back from their shock Carabao Cup defeat to Southampton, coming to Old Trafford with Erling Haaland likely to be leading the line once again – United need Varane to rise to the occasion.
Alongside Casemiro, the Frenchman’s leadership and big match prowess could prove crucial in United coming out on top in the derby.
Throughout his trophy-laden career, Varane has often elevated his level on the biggest stage and Ten Hag will be hoping Saturday proves no different.
Varane has struggled with injury setbacks throughout his time at Old Trafford, but a dominant and inspiring performance which nullifies Haaland will show that Varane remains at the peak of his powers.