Real Madrid-bound Raphael Varane is first up in Born Offside’s focus on the stars of tomorrow….

Eighteen-year-old Varane has been at the centre of a tug of war this summer that has ended in the classy defender joining Real Madrid from Lens. For a long period Varane had seemed destined to join Manchester United and it is very easy to see why two of Europes biggest clubs tried to prize the youngster from his homeland.

“Raphael is a truly first class player who is comfortable on both the tactical and technical level.”

Lille-born Varane joined Lens aged just nine, turning down the chance to join his hometown club.

After making rapid progress through the youth system at Lens, at the start of last season he was handed a professional contract and was promoted into the reserve team.

But just a matter of months later, he was promoted to the first team and  made his debut in early November as Lens recorded a 2-0 win over Montpellier.

From then he has shone making 23 first team appearances even netting two goals in that time and emerging as one of the brightest young defenders in world football.

His immense talent was no lost on Lens youth coach Eric Assadourian, who said: “Raphael is a truly first class player who is comfortable on both the tactical and technical level.”

Lens did everything they could to keep the 18-year-old at the club agreeing a new two-year-deal to quell transfer interest. But after the club was relegated to Ligue 2 the writing was on the wall and the vultures began to circle.

Although mainly a central defender, Varane can also play further forward as a defensive midfielder, or drop back and fulfill the sweeper role. He stands 6’3″  but has an agile and athletic build that combines pace with power.

Even aged 18, Varane has earned France Under-21 appearances and has already been earmarked for a senior role in the future.

Varane is certainly a huge talent and will be one of the foremost defenders in Europe in five years for Real Madrid and France.

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