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    Raphael Varane's contract revelation sheds light on Erik ten Hag's dilemma at Manchester United

    Raphael Varane (right) returned from the cold to play against Bayern Photo: Richard Sellers/Getty Images

    In many ways it happened It's indicative of a difficult season for Manchester United that Erik ten Hag has to rely on yet another centre-back whom he seemed close to leaving behind.

    From being stripped of the captain's armband to almost completely leaving the club in the summer, Harry Maguire has emerged as one of the players Ten Hag has come to rely on in recent weeks.

    Now United's deepening injury crisis has also robbed Ten Hag of Maguire, with the Dutchman having to turn to another previously forgotten man, Raphael Varane, to help dig him out of a hole.

    This is despite Varane being completely suspended from the game. recently and is free to talk to foreign suitors from next month as his contract expires at the end of the season, a year earlier than originally stated on United's website at the time of his signing.

    Varane's appearance in Tuesday night's 1-0 win over Bayern Munich, which confirmed United's exit from Europe, was his first start since late October and his first appearance for a month.

    Being One of the pillars along with Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro on which United's brief and all-too-fragile revival last season was built, the French defender's fall this season has been as dramatic and sudden as the fall of the team itself.

    < p>It was common to hear Ten Hag praise the World Cup and the character and leadership of the four-time Champions League winner last season.

    But the same player has since dropped to fifth in the pecking order, 35 behind summer Jonny Evans, and has only now returned to the game due to recent injuries affecting the team.

    This raises questions. about how Ten Hag controls players

    Varane was one of the few players to impress for United against Bayern and Ten Hag will be hoping he can produce a similar performance on Sunday to try to help his severely depleted side stifle Premier League leaders Liverpool at the match Anfield, where they lost 7-0 last season.

    It's a rather awkward situation, to say the least, and again raises questions about how Ten Hag handled certain players and situations. It is very difficult to find a balance between maintaining discipline and not being authoritarian or stubborn to the point of cutting off your own nose to spite yourself, especially in modern dressing rooms.

    Ten Hag may have been correct in his assessment of the Cristiano situation Ronaldo last season, but it is debatable whether he handled Jadon Sancho's delicate predicament as well as he could, while his handling of Maguire and Varane seems questionable at best.

    “You can ban players, but of course it's also about managing people and how to work with players and treat them,” said astute former United and Netherlands defender Jaap Stam on The Overlap's Stick to Football podcast ” “There was a case with Ronaldo, a case with Sancho, perhaps with Raphael Varane – I don’t know if something happened there.

    “Now there is such a problem with the press: a ban on journalists at press conferences. This will not benefit you as a leader. You need peace and quiet.

    “You need to be completely focused and I don't think you want to talk about the players or what the players think of you as a coach.”

    “I'm a little worried about him, so it would be good if he achieved results. He should worry and think about what will happen now.”

    “Is he going to make progress?” 🇳🇱

    Jaap Stam about his fellow countryman Erik ten Hage and his time at Manchester United. pic.twitter.com/ddCqefsSCZ

    — The Overlap (@WeAreTheOverlap) December 13, 2023

    When Varane joined United from Real Madrid for £42.7 million in August 2021, the club's website announced that he was under contract until 2025. However, this will only happen if the 12-month option in the deal is exercised, meaning Varane will become a free agent next summer unless that clause is triggered or he doesn't leave beforehand.

    It is believed that Varane wants to stay at Old Trafford, but it is no secret that his relationship with Ten Hag has deteriorated and it is difficult to see how it can continue in the long term unless the situation comes to a head.

    p>

    Transfer next month cannot be discounted, although his age and salary could deter European suitors, especially as he could be available on a free transfer in six months while many Saudi Pro League clubs have already filled their quotas for foreign players. .

    Either way, Ten Hag has one more player headache to contend with.

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