Harry Maguire heaps praise on 'really exciting' arrival Raphael Varane

Harry Maguire heaps praise on ‘really exciting’ arrival of new £42m centre-back partner Raphael Varane… and says he will bring a ‘winning mentality’ to Manchester United by making defenders fight for their place

  • Manchester United unveiled Raphael Varane before Saturday’s season opener
  • The centre-back joined the Red Devils for £42million from Real Madrid
  • Captain Harry Maguire claimed Varane will bring great competition to the squad
  • Varane will challenge Victor Lindelof for a place in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side 

Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has hailed Raphael Varane’s ‘winning mentality’, claiming his arrival will lift the squad – but warned that every player needs to be ready to fight for their place. 

The Frenchman was officially unveiled on the pitch to a standing ovation before United got Old Trafford rocking with a 5-1 opening day thriller against Leeds on Saturday. 

The defender’s £42million arrival means United find themselves with a surplus of centre-back options – including Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones – and will force players to improve. 

Harry Maguire claimed Raphael Varane’s arrival at United brings a ‘winning mentality’

The 28-year-old is expected to partner Maguire at the heart of United’s defence, bumping Lindelof, who started against Leeds, to the bench. 

Axel Tuanzebe and teenager Teden Mengi are expected to play their football away from Manchester this season, while Jones has not played in almost 18 months but is still contracted to the club until 2023. 

Speaking after the 5-1 win, Maguire said: ‘To bring players into this club, obviously of his calibre as well, it’s going to be really, really exciting.

Harry Maguire claimed Varane’s arrival at United is ‘great for the competition for the squad’

‘Everyone in the squad is obviously looking forward to working with him. I think one thing that it does is it boosts our defensive options.

‘We’ve got an amazing number of centre-backs now at this club, all international players who are all proven in the Premier League. You’ve seen again how well Victor played [against Leeds].’

With six first-team centre-backs on offer for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to select, tensions are already said to be running high amongst the squad. 

Varane held up his No 19 shirt to the expectant Red Devils fans on Saturday but he reportedly had been targeting the No 4. 

Varane held up his No 19 shirt to the expectant Red Devils fans at Old Trafford on Saturday

The centre-back had been targeting the number four but Phil Jones retained the number

However, according to the Manchester Evening News, Jones refused to relinquish the number, despite not making an appearance for United since January 2020.

The World Cup winner also wore 19 on his back during his first season with Real Madrid before switching to No 2 and then settling on five 

No 4 had been reserved for Sergio Ramos at the Bernabeu and Varane had hoped to finally wear it in England. 

Solskjaer has failed to bring any silverware to Old Trafford so far during his three-season tenure but the United boss will be hoping the four-time Champions League and World Cup winner could help his side clinch a trophy this season. 

The defender has won the Champions League four times and the 2018 World Cup with France

‘I think you’ve seen what he’s won over his career. He’s played in some of the top teams about – the French squad and the Real Madrid team – and he’s won absolutely everything,’ Maguire added.

‘I think he’ll bring that winning mentality to the club and he’ll also bring his footballing ability to the club. Like I said, bringing players in is great for the squad. It lifts the squad, it’s great for the competition for the squad – not just as a centre-back but just in any position.

‘We thrive off it, that’s how we play. At one of the biggest clubs in the world you don’t expect to have an easy ride and have no competition for places.’

Victor Lindelof produced an assist for Bruno Fernandes to secure his opening day hat-trick

Lindelof was named captain of the Sweden national team this week but Varane’s arrival is likely to spell the end of the his time as a regular starter.

However, Lindelof made a strong case to retain his spot as he provided an assist for Bruno Fernandes to seal his opening day hat-trick.  

‘Victor has not just shown today [how good he is], but he’s shown over the last two seasons while I’ve played with him,’ Maguire said.

‘He’s an excellent footballer so, like I say, to have this amount of top centre-backs is great for the competition for places. It’ll make people push further, push harder and it’s exciting.’

Varane will have been impressed by his new club on Saturday, as he watched a searing victory inspired by Fernandes and Paul Pogba, who notched four assists, from the stands but could make his debut when United lock horns with Southampton on Sunday.

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