Man Utd’s ‘signing of the season’ Raphael Varane exposed after Arsenal shocker

Rangnick questions VAR decisions after Man Utd lose at Arsenal

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Manchester United saw their top-four hopes go up in smoke against Arsenal on Saturday thanks to another shocking defensive display. And with club captain Harry Maguire dropped for the crunch clash, Raphael Varane has come in for criticism after turning in a nightmare performance – just months after he was tipped to be the Premier League’s ‘signing of the season’ by Paul Merson.

Varane – alongside Alex Telles – was at fault for the Gunners opening goal, which came after just two minutes at the Emirates Stadium. A routine ball across the area evaded Varane, leaving Bukayo Saka free to fire a strike towards goal from close-range. Although David de Gea saved the strike, Nuno Tavares was on hand to stab home the loose ball to leave United with a mountain to climb.

The ex-Real Madrid defender was tasked with leading the line in Maguire’s absence – but the former World Cup winner looked alarmingly out of his depth as United slumped to a 3-1 defeat. It’s been a difficult maiden season in the Premier League for the Frenchman, who was tipped by Merson as the man to transform United into genuine title contenders at the start of the season.

Merson told The Daily Star: “Raphael Varane will turn Manchester United into title contenders – he’s the signing of the summer in the Premier League. I think it’s as tight as it’s ever been this season and there’s four teams who could win the league.

“United weren’t one of them but Varane changes that. I think that’s a major signing. With all the class and experience he brings with him from Real Madrid, I think he’s going to have a massive impact.”

United shelled out £34million to bring Varane to the club as part of a massive overhaul last summer. Jadon Sancho also arrived at Old Trafford for big money, while Cristiano Ronaldo completed an emotional homecoming in the final days of the transfer window.

But other than Ronaldo, United’s expensive new recruits have failed to drive the title bid that the Old Trafford hierarchy harboured ambitions for this season. Both Sancho and Varane have struggled to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League this term; a factor that has undoubtedly contributed to United’s miserable season.

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While Maguire has taken the brunt of the flack from the Old Trafford faithful, Varane has hardly made the impact that was expected of him.

And there was nowhere for Varane to hide on Saturday afternoon with his usual defensive partner missing. For a player like Varane, with his big-match pedigree after a career spent winning major honours at the highest level, there can be no excuses for such a lacklustre display – even if it was first appearance in three weeks.

Based on Saturday’s shocking showing against the Gunners, its looking increasingly likely that both Manchester United and Varane are a long, long way from reaching their Premier League title aspirations – even if both were tipped for that very same accolade at the start of the season.

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