Erik ten Hag insists he has no problem with Raphael Varane
Erik ten Hag insists he has no problem with Raphael Varane and reiterates the Frenchman was left out for ‘tactical reasons’ with Harry Maguire’s form creating ‘internal competition’
- Erik ten Hag stands behind his ‘tactical reasons’ for excluding Raphael Varane
- He says has has no problem with Varane and has ‘always been happy’ with him
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Erik ten Hag insists he doesn’t have an issue with Raphael Varane, and says the Frenchman’s recent absence from the Manchester United team is down to Harry Maguire’s renaissance at Old Trafford.
Varane is in contention to start at home to Luton Town on Saturday having been missing from the line-up for the last four Premier League games.
The 30-year-old is understood to have spoken to Ten Hag after the United manager said publicly that he had been dropped for the Manchester derby for ‘tactical’ reasons — even though the player is thought to have had an ongoing fitness issue and missed the Carabao Cup defeat by Newcastle three days later.
Varane has since made substitute appearances off the bench against Fulham and Copenhagen. He is said to be upset that Ten Hag chose to play Jonny Evans alongside Maguire because the Northern Irishman is better at passing out from the back, although the United manager insisted on Friday: ‘That was never the issue.’
The previously strong relationship between the two men is said to have become strained, but Ten Hag played down talk of any problem with Varane on Friday.
Erik ten Hag has insisted that he does not have a problem with out-of-favour Raphael Varane
Varane, usually a critical player for Man United, has been left out of the starting XI in the last four games
Ten Hag offered Harry Maguire’s return to form as one of the reasons for Varane’s exclusion
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‘Absolutely not,’ he said. ‘As I said, it is about tactical reasons why I chose these partnerships. I think Harry and Jonny did well.
‘Harry didn’t play a lot last year, so I was very happy with Rapha’s performances. I have always been happy with his performance.
‘But in this moment, Harry is playing very well and there is internal competition. I always said Harry Maguire can do the job — and now he is showing he can do the job.’
Ten Hag prefers his central defenders to play on the side of their stronger foot. But with Evans joining left-footers Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw on the injury list, Varane could get the nod ahead of Victor Lindelof to start alongside Maguire for the third time this season against Luton.
‘There are moments in certain games where they can play together and they have already proven they can do it,’ added Ten Hag.
‘But the build-up is not that fluid when one of them is playing from the left centre back position.’
If Varane’s situation does not improve, his future at United could be open to doubt at a time when his former Real Madrid team-mate Casemiro has been ruled out until after Christmas through injury.
Erik ten Hag (centre) is known to favour his centre backs to play on the side of their stronger foot
Jonny Evans has had an unlikely renaissance on Man United and featured in critical matches
The decision to buy Real Madrid duo Casemiro and Varane for a combined £109m does not look as good as it once did
Both players are now in their 30s and United’s decision to pay Madrid a combined £109million for the pair does not look as good as it did last season.
With Martinez having featured just six times since April due to a broken foot, United have been playing without three of their most influential figures.
Does Ten Hag have enough leaders? ‘It is also on others to step up,’ he said. ‘Casemiro and Martinez are not there, so others have to fill in.’
Meanwhile, Ten Hag wants all the Premier League managers to hold private talks with the PGMOL ‘to improve football and find solutions’ following a spate of controversial VAR decisions.
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