French journalist Thibaud Leplat believes Manchester United defender Raphael Varane could lose his starting spot at international level to William Saliba.
The 21-year-old has actually been loaned out by Arsenal to Marseille this season, but the centre-back got his full debut in France’s 5-0 win over South Africa earlier this week. Leplat compared the Gunners loanee’s style of play to Laurent Blanc and asked whether Varane’s place in Didier Deschamps’ starting eleven is in jeopardy:
“When Varane came off against South Africa, the French team were leading 3-0. Saliba passes in the axis, goes up a notch and France score two goals. He intercepts an incredible number of balls. He’s smaller, he doesn’t have the stature of Varane but he exudes an extraordinary serenity that I haven’t seen since Laurent Blanc. We must open a debate (about Saliba replacing) Varane. But, Didier Deschamps will not.”
“If we are lucid about Varane’s performance, we will realize that the defensive feverishness of the France team comes from the insecurity he has more than 50 meters from his goal. He anticipates too quickly, he is not in the right tempo. Saliba, almost all the balls he touched, are returned vertically. Varane is on the side. Let’s not be blinded by Varane’s career, let’s see his performances and they are disappointing.”
You do get the feeling that some journalists live in their own little bubble. Leplat has clearly only been watching French football and has come to the conclusion that Saliba is now better than Varane on the basis of one season.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta sent him away as he didn’t feel he would get the game time at the Emirates, and now it has been claimed that he is better than Varane?
It is not credible to hold that position. Varane has won eighteen major trophies with Real Madrid in his career, and the World Cup with France. Even though he hasn’t been at his best this season, there shouldn’t really be a debate here.