Raphael Varane injury blow couldn’t come at a worse time for Manchester United
International breaks always come with a certain peril for a club that one of their players could suffer an injury while not even playing for them. With everything out of their control. It must be massively frustrating and it’s happened once again to Manchester United.
Just 43 minutes into France’s Nations League final against Spain on Sunday and trouble struck. Raphael Varane was sprinting back to intercept a cross and in doing so suffered a thigh injury. He had to be replaced and watch on from the sidelines, with strapping on his leg, as Les Bleus came from a goal down to claim victory.
While it’s another medal for the collection for United’s new signing, who is still yet to lose a European final, the injury must come as a bitter blow to him.
The 28-year-old hasn’t had the most positive starts to life at Old Trafford – not helped by Harry Maguire’s slump in form and having a midfield in front of him that offers little protection – but that was of little surprise.
Varane has moved to a much faster and physically tougher league after spending a decade at the top of the pile in Spain, it takes time to adapt on the pitch, let alone off it.
It has looked like he is starting to find his feet in the Premier League, however, and a spell on the sidelines will just cause to disrupt the progress he has made and delay how long it will take for him to get back to his best.
It’s not yet been determined how serious the injury is and the extent of the damage will be assessed once he returns to Manchester this week, but even a minor spell on the sidelines will be a big loss to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and couldn’t come at a worse time.
Even a Varane who is not yet fully acclimatised to English football will be a massive loss, especially with the fixtures United have coming up.
Although Solskjaer’s side are still only two points off the top of the league, they have had a comfortable run of games so far and things are about to get significantly harder.
By the time the next international break rolls around in November, United will have faced Leicester City, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City in the league as well as Atalanta home and away in Europe.
The spell of games may not make United’s season but it could certainly break it and, as a result, Solskjaer’s reign in charge.
If United struggle to pick up a good number of points then they will see themselves fall behind the pack in the title race and more slip-ups can’t be afforded in the Champions League after the defeat to Young Boys.
What makes Varane’s potential time on the sidelines even bleaker for United is that his partner and club captain Maguire is currently on the injury list, too.
Maguire was injured in the defeat to Aston Villa and was ruled out for ‘a few weeks.’ The best case scenario for United would be, despite his lack of sharpness and form, that Maguire returns for the first game back against Leicester but if he doesn’t then it will be the return of an old pairing that hasn’t fared well in the past.
While Victor Lindelof has had some positive displays this season and will likely be in the starting XI at the King Power, being partnered up with Eric Bailly hasn’t served him well in the past. Jose Mourinho opted for the duo during the end of his reign and it compelled United to go and spend £80million on Maguire.
Bailly has played just once for United this season but has made some high-profile mistakes in recent international matches that show he remains a liability at the back.
With such a significant run of games in the season upcoming the prospect of Varane being sidelined couldn’t have been timed much worse. Everyone will now have to keep their fingers crossed that it isn’t a serious problem.