Report: Manchester United linked with €30m bid for Chelsea-linked Real Madrid star

Manchester United's search for a defender could lead them to a shock swoop for Real Madrid star Raphael Varane.

New manager Louis van Gaal started work at Old Trafford on Wednesday having led the Netherlands to the semi-finals of the World Cup, and now work on improving the United squad will increase – despite having already landed Southampton left back Luke Shaw and Athletic Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera for a combined fee in the region of £60m.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done in the defence, with the long-serving partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic now disbanded following their release, with Serbian Vidic now in Italy with Inter Milan. Arsenal's Thomas Vermaelen has been linked, but even if the Belgian does sign, United still only have Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling at their disposal – and a big name centre back is needed in order to shore up the middle of the United defence.

Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels and Atletico Madrid's Miranda have both been strongly suggested as targets for van Gaal, but they could be poised to turn their attentions to a player that Sir Alex Ferguson tried to sign back in 2011 – Real Madrid star Varane.

The Frenchman, who United tried to sign from Lens before his move to Spain, impressed at the World Cup for Laurent Blanc's men, with the 21-year-old playing far beyond his years alongside either Mamadou Sakho or Laurent Koscielny. However, it appears that Varane will remain behind Pepe and Sergio Ramos in the pecking order under Carlo Ancelott, leading to speculation that he wants to leave.

Reports suggest that United are willing to submit a €30m offer for Varane, which would in turn fund Madrid's move to sign Real Sociedad centre back Inigo Martinez as a replacement. Whether Real would be willing to sell their young star remains to be seen, but if the Red Devils were to beat Chelsea to his signature - Jose Mourinho is a big fan of Varane from his time with Madrid - then it would be yet another step in the right direction for van Gaal's Red Devils.

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