The game of chess is played between two opponents, with contrasting colours, as each player attempts to force the other into checkmate, which is a position of submission – it’s a strategic board game, which is vastly tactically complex at the elite level.
In some ways, working in the transfer market is like manoeuvring a chessboard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the decision-maker overseeing every move, but there is one key difference between the transfer market and chess – the latter is played in the open.
There is a clear need for reinforcements in the transfer market for Manchester United in this summer window. If the Reds want to take the step to the next level, to contend for the major honours the very fabric of the club was built on, they need to recruit successfully.
While signing a centre-forward was once Solskjaer’s priority, Edinson Cavani’s decision to extend his contract at Old Trafford has allowed the Norweigan to prioritise elsewhere and United are considering multiple centre-back candidates for such a move.
The need to find Harry Maguire a word-class centre-back partner and the MEN understand United are following the progress of Pau Torres, while they’ve opened talks with Raphael Varane over the possibility of a move, which could prove to be the cure to their woes.
Varane’s glittering CV speaks for itself, the Real Madrid centre-back, 28, boasts an impressive pedigree having won four Champions Leagues, three La Ligas, one Copa del Rey and the World Cup, but there are other underlying qualities that Solskjaer has perhaps noticed.
“You don’t want defenders who are emotional. Because if they’re too emotional they’ll cost you in a cup final, or they’ll give a penalty away, or get sent off,” Solskjaer told the High Performance Podcast last year.
“When you’re one-nil down and you’re really struggling that’s when you want the leaders to step up, and the winners to step up. But you have three, four of them who really take the level up and we want them.”
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Those quotes from Solskjaer offer a unique and honest insight into the United boss’ mentality in regards to recruitment and it seems Varane would perfectly fit the ideal defender he’s looking for because his disciplinary record over the years has been immaculate.
Across 360 appearances for Real Madrid, Varane has received just two red cards, which means he’s been handed his marching orders once every five years in his time in Spain, something Solskjaer might have taken notice of before enquiring over his availability.
Although he’s received two yellow cards in La Liga this season, Varane had previously embarked on a 40-game stretch without receiving a caution and this only adds to his obvious appeal – his ability to be consistently relied upon is an invaluable attribute.