Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane has told Canal+ it was “difficult to turn down Jose Mourinho” and a move to Manchester United this summer, but says Zinedine Zidane’s vote of confidence convinced him to stay in Spain.
Varane, 23, has developed into a world-class centre-back since moving to Madrid from Lens in 2011 bearing the tag of being one of the game’s most promising youngsters.
That transformation was aided in great part by Mourinho during his three-year tenure at the Santiago Bernabeu, and the United coach hoped to reunite with the France international at Old Trafford this summer only for Varane to reject the move.
“Of course it’s flattering. Manchester United is a very big club. But from the moment when Madrid and I are in sync on my project, there’s no questions to ask yourself,”
Varane, who is under contract in the Spanish capital until 2020, said.
“I have always said I feel good in Madrid. It’s not easy to say ‘No’ to Jose Mourinho, but you have to weigh up the pros and the cons. We’re men, we have decisions to make and that’s how it is.”
While Mourinho played a key role in Varane’s progress on the pitch, it was France legend Zidane who — in his role as Madrid’s sporting director — was instrumental in bringing his young compatriot to the club five years ago.
Now first-team coach, Zidane has clearly not lost faith in the classy centre-back, a fact not lost on Varane himself and the decisive factor in his decision not to join United.
“It was really that trust, that support which was important for me, and when I was reassured on that point, there was no question of it any more.”