Manchester United had signed Varane to fix their defensive problems, but the Red Devils have conceded more goals than any other side in the top nine of the Premier League
Manchester United’s defensive woes are showing no signs of disappearing and their issues at the back can be summed up by a problem that has plagued star centre-back Raphael Varane all season.
The Red Devils were smashed 4-1 by Manchester City on Sunday, the fourth time they have conceded four or more goals in the Premier League this campaign.
It means their woeful defensive record shows no sign of abating, with the Red Devils having conceded more goals than any other side currently sitting in the top nine of the Premier League.
At the heart of their problems has been the inability to consistently play their best two centre-backs in Varane and Harry Maguire alongside each other for much of the season.
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Varane was signed from Real Madrid for £40million in the summer transfer window to become Maguire’s long-term partner at the back.
But as has happened far too often this season, the Frenchman was not fit enough to play against City.
United boss Ralf Rangnick revealed ahead of the clash that Varane had been hit by a bout of Covid-19, ruling him out of the trip to the Etihad Stadium.
“Varane and Shaw tested positive for Covid in midweek,” he told MUTV, with the former’s absence proving critical.
Instead, Victor Lindelof lined up alongside Maguire and the duo were at least partially responsible for City’s opening two goals.
The third goal, which came when Riyad Mahrez was left unmarked at a corner, also heavily hinted that United were crying out for an experienced leader at the back.
Varane’s absence is nothing new, with the Frenchman having only been able to feature 16 times in total in the league this season.
Groin, stomach and hamstring injuries have seen Varane miss a total of 10 games in the top-flight this term and only able to feature as a substitute in two others.
By contrast, Maguire has only missed two Premier League games through injury problems, though he has struggled to perform at the level expected of him.
The Englishman has looked at his best when paired with Varane, but the latter’s injury problems have meant that United have not been able to enjoy any kind of consistency at the back.
Varane has struggled to feature for more than two games in a row, with United’s backline often looking all at sea without him.
This is not how his time at United was meant to play out, with the 28-year-old being signed to fix the defensive problems that have plagued the Red Devils in recent seasons.
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Instead, he has only created more issues for Rangnick and United who have been unable to find a solution to his frequent absences.
Varane’s presence in defence was clearly missed in the thrashing at City and his difficulties with availability are a root cause of United’s continuing problems at the back.
The Red Devils will hope that he can recover from his bout of Covid quickly, with the top four quickly slipping out of their grasp.