Raphael Varane will be a name that is familiar to many who watch La Liga. But to many fans of British football, Varane has yet to have made the name for himself that he will surely achieve on a global scale in the very near future.
Varane, who is currently in his second season playing for Spanish giants Real Madrid, is one of Zinedine Zidane's own personal recommendations for the La Liga side. The Frenchman spotted his fellow countryman playing for Lens back in 2010 and told Real that they have to buy the defender as soon as possible. A year later, he was linking up with his new team mates at the Bernabeu. Two years later, and he is now fast becoming a first team regular at Carlo Ancelotti's side.
Varane, who was born in Lille in 1993, started his young career playing for Lens and spent the next 9 years here. Under his former manager, Jean-Guy Wallemme, Varane was fast tracked into the first team. A flurry of scouts were spotted watching the 20-year-old centre back in action, including Arsene Wenger's scouts as well as then Man Utd manager Sir Alex Ferguson's head scout. The player only took part in 23 games for the French side before he would make a dream move to Real Madrid in a deal worth 10 million Euros and having signed a mega money six year contract in Spain.
The centre back, who stands tall at 6 foot 3, has the exciting combination of excellent positioning, strong on both the ground in the tackle as well as in the air; meaning that Varane is fast becoming one of Europe's most exciting prospects. The great Fernando Hierro is one name to have been compared with Varane.
With the World Cup just around the corner, Varane is hoping that regular appearances in Real's first team will ensure that he is on the plane to Brazil, but not just that; the defender is hoping that he will also be one of the first names on Didier Deschamps' starting XI team sheet.
Back in April 2013, Spanish paper Marca even named Varane as one of the best foreigners to have played for the club in Real Madrid's history - an amazing accolade considering that the 20-year-old has yet to even have forced his way into the club's first team on a permanent basis. Varane is still behind the likes of Sergio Ramos at the club, but certainly there will be a chance for the defender to play more regularly in future. In fact, Carlo Ancelotti has recently asked Sergio Ramos to play at right back so that Varane can be accommodated in a central role.
Varane will be one of the all time best centre backs if he continues his development under Carlo Ancelotti in Madrid. The Frenchman just needs to ensure that he gets enough playing time in the Spanish capital.
Potential Ability: 49/50
Current Ability: 44/50