There was no Pepe and there was no Sergio Ramos but cometh the hour, cometh the man, or in this case the teenager. What better way than to play your first El Clasico than in a defence that was completely patched together. Micheal Essien was playing right back, former Liverpool player Álvaro Arbeloa who usually plays on the right was put out on the left and forgotten man Ricardo Carvalho was responsible for leading the way with 19-year-old man of the moment Raphaël Varane, a target for Manchester City, there beside him. Real Madrid fans were nervous; afterwards they would be celebrating as a new hero emerged.
In the summer of 2011, Real Madrid signed Raphaël Varane for a believed fee of around €10m. The Lens defender had been scouted by numerous European clubs, but a chat with Zinedine Zidane persuaded the player to leave the club he joined at the age of nine. He joined Los Blancos and photos of him in Madrid’s Barajas airport, as the club went to the US on it American tour, showed a lost boy and some were wondering was he maybe out of his depth. There was also the issue that no one knew his exact position. While he had played as a central defender, he could also play as a defensive midfielder. In his first training session he showed fans and coaches that he was the real deal.
After last Wednesday’s game, a packed Real Madrid pressroom was buzzing about Varane. He had been immense against Barca. His 6ft 3in frame dominated the air and Barca couldn’t get past him. His tackling was impeccable, his distribution was clever and his off the ball movement was exact. He cleared one shot off the line and he scored the equaliser. One person who wasn’t singing his praises though was his coach, José Mourinho.
It wasn’t that Mourinho didn’t appreciate what his young charge had done. In fact it had been under Mourinhos insistence that they signed the young French defender. Little by little he used him in the squad. Last season he played 15 times and scored twice. This season he has already played 19 times and with Real Madrid’s defensive woes, he will definitely play more. Mourinho believes in the defender and the reason he wasn’t praising Varane was because as he said, he already knew he was that good. In March 2012 he was already singing his praises.
“Varane has the same intelligence, the same calmness on the ball and the same presence as Laurent Blanc on the pitch," said the Real Madrid Coach in an interview with France Football. He went on to add, "But with all due respect to Blanc, Varane is much faster. For now, he is still a kid. But I hope and I think when he reaches maturity at 26-27 he will be better than Blanc."
High praise indeed and the youngster has the entire world watching him after last week’s display. Right now the player says he is concentrating on Real Madrid. Newspapers in England suggest Manchester City want the player but there are no signs or reasons that Real Madrid wants to sell him. Last week he was compared to Real Madrid hero Fernando Hierro and fans believe he is here for the long haul. He signed a six-year contract in 2011, but those at the Santiago Bernabeu are considering offering him a new deal, if anything to ward off interest from City. A bright future lies ahead, if he can keep his feet on the ground.