INEOS could send Varane packing with Man Utd move for £100m “physical beast”

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Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United team has been a rather strong one overall, notably in the Premier League, despite using a variety of different center-back combinations this season for forced rather than voluntary reasons.

United has maintained six clean sheets, which is tied for second-most in the top flight, while giving up just 1.38 goals per game on average.

Though Raphael Varane has struggled with injuries during his time in Manchester, there have been whispers over his future at the team. Football Insider claims that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are willing to allow the World Cup winner to leave in the summer when his contract expires.

Varane, Man., United., Scalvini, Premier League
So let’s examine three outstanding centre back alternatives to Varane.

Matthijs De Ligt of Bayern Munich is the first option.

Mathias De Lichtt Ajax
Dutch centre back The first player who has the potential to bench Varane come summer is Matthijs De Ligt. The 24-year-old may team up with Ten Hag at Old Trafford since he is allegedly dissatisfied with his minimal playing time at Bayern Munich.

The Athletic is reporting that Man United has gotten in touch with the German team about a possible loan transfer for the former Ajax juggernaut.

Bundesliga Stats for 2023–2024 by De Ligt

Statistics (per 90)

De Ligt

The percentile

completed passes


top sixteen percent

enters the final third


Top 2%



top sixteen percent

Touches using an ATTT pen


Top 2%

The aerials prevailed.


Top 12%

Statistics through FBref

As you can see, De Ligt is a formidable defender who can be used on either side of the play because of his strength in the air and on the ball.

In the same manner that William Saliba dominates at Arsenal, his ability to advance the play and feel at ease in possession will increase United’s control, and his quickness and athleticism will make the team challenging to deal with in transition.

Option 2: OGC Nice’s Jean-Clair Todibo

kylian, mbappé, todibo, and Jean-clair
As far as Man United players go in January, Jean-Clair Todibo has perhaps been the most linked, and CaughtOffisde has verified that the Nice defender is one of Ten Hag’s top three targets.

Nice has risen to second position in Ligue 1, having conceded the fewest goals in the league thanks in large part to the French rock this season.

The 2023–24 Ligue 1 Stats for Todibo

Statistics (per 90)


The percentile

completed passes


Top 8%



Top 6%

advancing passes


top sixteen percent

Interceptions plus tackles


Top 25%

Dribblers engaged in combat


upper 18%

Statistics through FBref

Todibo is a defender who seldom gives the ball away for cheap and is incredibly composed when in control of the ball, but he isn’t a passive player either thanks to his high progressive passes.

Being a proactive and aggressive defender, he has a high combined tackle and interceptions total. Interestingly, FBref compares him most to United’s Martinez, the central defender.

3 Option 3: Jarrad Branthwaite – Everton

Everton, Branthwaite, and Jarrad
Jarrad Branthwaite’s performance in his first official Premier League season has been so impressive that Football Talent Scout Jacek Kulig has dubbed him a “monster.”

According to a recent claim from The Mirror, Everton would be obliged to sell its most valuable players, meaning Branthwaite, who is valued at £100 million, would be the first to go.

The table below demonstrates how much the 21-year-old enjoys playing defence and how well he perceives the game. He can also easily defend in one-on-one scenarios. Because of this, he is very challenging to play against; commentator Ben Mattinson has called him a “physical beast”.

PL Stats for Branthwaite, 2023–2024

Statistics (per 90)


The percentile



top 17%

Dribblers engaged in combat


Top 1%

Dribblers faced off


Top 15%



Top 9%

Ball retrievals


Top 12%

Statistics through FBref

Given Martinez is the opposite of Varane, the former PSV defender would be the ideal Varane replacement because he is likewise calm-headed and rarely acts impulsively.

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