Do Chelsea Really Need Raphael Varane?


It’s only natural for Chelsea to be heavily linked with Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane.

Current Blues boss Jose Mourinho gave Varane his debut at the Bernabeu in 2011. Now three and a half years later, Raphael is still struggling to break the defensive partnership of Pepe and Sergio Ramos at Los Blancos.

At the age of twenty-one and about to finish his fourth season in La Liga, Varane undoubtably wants regular first team football. Especially when you figure in that France host the Euros in 2016. The young centre-back is already a key man for Didier Deschamps’ Les Bleus side and will want to cement his place next summer.

But even though he’s a Mourinho prodigy, do Chelsea really need to sign Raphael Varane? 

I suppose as with most big transfer stories before the window reopens, there are quite a lot of if’s, buts and maybes.

Club captain John Terry has just extended his contract by another year at Stamford Bridge. The thirty-four year old can’t play on forever but he has once again excelled this season. Some will say that next term will be one that Jose decides to rest Terry more but that remains to be seen.

Terry’s usual defensive partner Gary Cahill is twenty-nine years old. Terry has always been very complimentary about Englishman Cahill and recently stated…

“Gaz [Gary Cahill] has been different class since he came in and again I have struck up a relationship with him on and off the field like I did with Willie (William Gallas) and Riccy (Ricardo Carvalho).”

But you get the feeling Jose isn’t fully convinced about Cahill’s qualities. He dropped the centre-back for the Liverpool League Cup semi-final game, with Mourinho preferring the pacey Kurt Zouma. The fact Chelsea conceded from a set-piece against PSG due to Cahill and Terry mistakenly marking each other didn’t help Cahill’s cause for playing in the really big games.

That said, Cahill has won the League Cup, the FA Cup, the Europa League and the Champions League whilst at Stamford Bridge. Jose likes loyalty and winners, Gary Cahill’s CV represents both of these.

Then you have Kurt Zouma. He’s a a year younger than Varane and along with Raphael, he’s seen as the bright future of French football. Zouma is currently the fastest central defender on Chelsea’s books and has learned a lot by just sitting on the bench and watching Cahill and Terry most weeks. When he has came in, he’s not really let himself down and is now determined to force his way into the side more often.

Although when Kurt partnered Cahill in the 4-2 home defeat to Bradford City in the FA Cup, that might have worried Jose.

So would Varane arriving just stall Zouma’s flourishing Chelsea career? 

Both are exciting prospects, although Varane is more accomplished at this time. You can’t see both playing regularly together at club level next season, if they are in the same squad. Plus they share the same attributes; both like playing on their right-side, both can take the ball out of defence, both can be physical and both have vast amounts of speed to burn.

I’d imagine youngsters Tomas Kalas and Andreas Christensen would be loaned out if the French internationalist signed on from Real Madrid.

But that would still leave Varane challenging three other strong centre-backs for just two positions. I would imagine the whole point in leaving Real would be to get guaranteed first team football elsewhere. Can Jose give him that guarantee at Chelsea?

Would it not be better for Raphael to go to either of the Manchester clubs? Who’ll both be on the lookout for new central defenders this summer? 

If Carlo Ancelotti were to leave Real in the summer, who is to say that the new coach of the ‘Galacticos’ wouldn’t want to keep Varane? 

You then have to figure in the price tag.

The £40m fee reported at the moment is extremely steep for a defender who isn’t a first team regular at his current club, especially in these days of Financial Fair Play.

Chelsea are also being linked with Gareth Bale. So would they really want to spend £130m on two Madrid players in one summer? They usually work the transfer market better than that these days.

Maybe they’d sell Oscar, if they knew they were getting Bale. But with the talent they already have at the back would it make sense in forking out £40m on Varane? Although I’d imagine the fee would be closer to £30m-£35m.

Plus they’ll need to bring in a new number two keeper and possibly another back-up striker. I’d also suggest getting another holding midfielder if they can finally get John Obi Mikel off the books too.

Now I see the appeal in getting Varane. Mourinho gushed about him during his stint in charge of the Bernabeu. He was never afraid of playing the youngster and was often rewarded with fine performances. But he seems to be building the same kind of bond with Kurt Zouma. Would he risk Zouma’s progress just to be reunited with a similar type of player?

For all that I think Raphael Varane is on his way to becoming one of the world’s best centre-backs, I just can’t see him signing for Chelsea and for that deal to make sense. Unless Jose Mourinho has a master-plan that I just can’t fathom.

I’d hate to see one of Zouma or Varane’s careers stalling at this vital stage!

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