Raphaël Varane

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Raphaël Varane
Raphael Varane - France v Armenia.jpg
Varane with France in 2014
Personal information
Date of birth (1993-04-25) 25 April 1993 (age 24)[1]
Place of birth Lille, France
Height 1.91 m (6 ft 3 in)
Playing position Centre back
Club information
Current team
Real Madrid
Number 5
Youth career
2000–2002 Hellemmes
2002–2010 Lens
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2010–2011 Lens 23 (2)
2011– Real Madrid 113 (2)
National team
2010 France U18 2 (1)
2012 France U20 1 (0)
2011–2012 France U21 15 (3)
2013– France 35 (2)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 21 May 2017.
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 15 November 2016

Raphaël Varane (French pronunciation: ​[vaʁan]; born 25 April 1993) is a French professional footballer who plays as a centre back for Spanish club Real Madrid and the French national team.[2]

He previously played for French club Lens and, ahead of the 2010–11 season, began training with the senior team and appeared on the bench in several league matches. On 7 November 2010, Varane made his professional debut in a league match against Montpellier.[3] Varane has been described by Lens youth coach Eric Assadourian as a "truly first class player" who is "comfortable on both the tactical and technical level".[4] In January 2014, he was named by The Guardian as one of the ten most promising young players in Europe.[5]

Varane was a France youth international, having earned caps at under-18, under-20 and under-21 level. He made his full international debut in March 2013 and represented the country at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Club career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Varane was born in the city of Lille in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. He is of Martiniquais heritage through his father, Gaston, who is originally from Le Morne-Rouge, while his French mother, Annie, was raised in Saint-Amand-les-Eaux.[6] Varane began his football career in the Arrondissement of Lille playing for local club AS Hellemmes at the age of seven.[7] After spending two years at the club, in July 2002, he joined professional club RC Lens, despite some interest from Derby du Nord rivals and hometown club Lille OSC.[8] Similar to the development of the club's previous prized assets such as Gaël Kakuta and Timothée Kolodziejczak, Varane spent time at the Centre de Préformation de Football in nearby Liévin, a training center exclusively for players brought up in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region.[6] He spent two years at the center training there during the weekdays and playing with Lens on the weekends.

After returning full-time to Lens, Varane quickly ascended up the club's youth ranks. In the 2008–09 season, alongside teammates Thorgan Hazard and Geoffrey Kondogbia, he played on the club's under-16 team that won the Championnat National des 16 ans. In the following season, Varane was promoted to the club's under-19 team, despite being two years younger than several of his teammates. Ahead of the 2010–11 season, Varane signed his first professional contract.[9] He was, subsequently, promoted to the club's reserve team in the Championnat de France amateur.[10] Varane made his amateur debut in the club's opening league match of the campaign in a 2–0 victory over Drancy.[11] He appeared as a starter in the club's next nine matches with the team losing only one of them.


In late October of the campaign, Varane was called up to the senior team by manager Jean-Guy Wallemme to train ahead of the club's match against Montpellier on 6 November. He trained with the team for the entire week and, due to an injury to centre back Alaeddine Yahia, Varane was, surprisingly, named to the starting lineup.[12] In the match, he played the full 90 minutes in a 2–0 victory.[3] The victory was only the club's third clean sheet of the season. Varane was praised by teammates, most notably captain Adil Hermach, defending partner Eric Chelle, and striker David Pollet, as well as by the local media and coach Wallemme.[13][14] In the next two matches, Varane, alongside several other youth players, sat on the bench as Lens faced two tough teams in Marseille and Lyon.[15][16] He returned to the starting lineup on 30 November in a 4–1 defeat to Brest.[17] Despite the firing of Wallemme following the Brest match, Varane remained a starter in the team under new manager László Bölöni. In December, with both Chelle and Yahia returning to action, Varane was placed in the defensive midfielder role in the team's match against Bordeaux. In the match, he acted as a roving third centre back and made a blocked save in the 84th minute on a close range shot by Yoan Gouffran to preserve a 2–1 lead.[18] However, in the latter stages of the match, Bordeaux equalized to draw the match at 2–2.[19]

In January 2011, Varane was the subject of transfer speculation with the player being linked to several clubs.[20] In an effort to quell the interest, on 3 February 2011, he signed a two-year contract extension with Lens until 2015.[21][22][23] On 8 May, Varane scored his first professional goal in a 1–1 draw with Caen.[24] In the team's following match against Monaco, he scored the equalizing goal in another 1–1 draw.[25] Despite the goal, the stalemate condemned Lens to relegation back to Ligue 2 after two seasons in the top division.[26] On 21 May, Varane captained Lens in its 1–0 defeat to Arles-Avignon.[27]

Real Madrid[edit]

2011–12 season[edit]

On 22 June 2011, Lens president Gervais Martel confirmed to a group of supporters at a club meeting that Varane would be joining Spanish club Real Madrid stating, "He will play for Real Madrid under the guidance of José Mourinho."[2][28] Varane had previously visited Real Madrid's club facilities and also met with club advisor and compatriot Zinedine Zidane.[2][29] On 27 June, the move was confirmed by Real Madrid after Varane successfully passed his medical. Varane signed a six-year contract with the club and the transfer fee is purported to be in the range of €10 million.[30]

Raphaël Varane training with Real Madrid in Los Angeles.

Varane was assigned the number 19 shirt and made his club debut for Real Madrid in the club's opening pre-season fixture against American outfit Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2011 World Football Challenge. He appeared as a half-time substitute as Real Madrid cruised to a 4–1 win.[31] Varane made his first start for the club four days later in a 3–0 win over Mexican club Guadalajara. He finished the pre-season campaign appearing in seven of the eight pre-season matches Real Madrid contested.

Varane made his competitive debut for Real Madrid on 21 September in the team's league match against Racing de Santander. He started the match at centre back alongside Ricardo Carvalho as the match ended 0–0.[32] In the team's next league match three days later against Rayo Vallecano, Varane started and scored his first goal for the club after a flying back-heel shot following a Mesut Özil corner. Real Madrid won the match 6–2. Varane's goal made him the youngest foreign player at 18 years and 152 days to score a goal in a competitive match for Real Madrid.[33] On 27 September, he made his UEFA Champions League debut in a 3–0 group stage win over Dutch club Ajax.[34] Two months later, Varane made his second Champions League appearance against Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb. In the match, Varane started and assisted on the team's fifth goal, scored by José Callejón, in a 6–2 win. The victory ensured Real Madrid first place in its group.[35]

2012–13 season[edit]

Ahead of the 2012–13 season, Varane switched to the number 2 shirt. After failing to appear in Real Madrid's first four league matches, he made his season debut on 18 September in the club's opening UEFA Champions League group stage match against English club Manchester City. Varane started and played the entire match as Real Madrid won 3–2.[36]

On 30 January 2013, Varane made his El Clásico debut against Barcelona in the 2012–13 Copa del Rey. He stopped a group of dangerous attempts from Barcelona, including a shot from Xavi that he cleared from the goal line. He capped his performance with a headed goal in the game, which ended 1–1. He also became the second-youngest foreign player to score for Real Madrid in a Clásico match. In the return leg at the Camp Nou on 26 February 2013, Varane scored Madrid's third goal in a 3–1 away win with a header from a corner kick by Mesut Özil. Varane gained praise from former World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu after his performances against Barcelona and Manchester United. He said, "We are talking about a kid at Real Madrid who has unseated Pepe, and Pepe, with all his stuff, is still a great centre-half. His performance against Manchester United and Barcelona was extraordinary". Varane continued to impress in the Champions League quarter final first leg against Galatasaray, where he helped Madrid keep a clean sheet in a 3–0 triumph. All of his 27 passes found his teammates without any interception, and all of his tackles succeeded, with most on Didier Drogba.

In April 2013, Varane was named by Marca as a member of the "Best foreign eleven in Real Madrid's history".[37] On 14 May 2013, Varane successfully underwent an operation on his right knee after an injury he had picked up during his last 2012–13 league match against Real Sociedad.

2013–14 season[edit]

Varane came on as an injury-time substitute for Karim Benzema in the 2014 Copa del Rey Final which Real Madrid won 2–1 against Barcelona on 16 April.[38]

He played all 120 minutes of Real Madrid's 4–1 win over Atlético Madrid in the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final, in place of the more experienced Pepe. In added time at the end of extra time, after Cristiano Ronaldo scored the last goal, Varane kicked the ball towards Atlético manager Diego Simeone, causing him to run onto the pitch in anger. Simeone was sent to the stands and Varane booked for the incident. After the game, Atlético captain Gabi excused Varane due to his youth, while Simeone himself said, "I also made a mistake with my reaction. He's a young guy with a bright future."[39]

2014–15 season[edit]

On 18 September 2014, Varane signed a new six-year contract that will keep him at Real Madrid until 2020.[40]

2015–16 season[edit]

Varane was a part-time starter when the team won the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League.[41]

2016–17 season[edit]

Despite having a few injuries during the season, he made 23 appearances, when Madrid won the 2016–17 La Liga.[42][43]

Playing style[edit]

On 30 January 2013, the then Real Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka talked about Varane in the press conference post-El Clásico of the Copa del Rey, saying, "It's obvious that Varane has a good head on his shoulders and will keep improving."[44]

Former France defender Frank Leboeuf believes that Varane has the potential to be better than Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro, saying to reporters, "Many compare him to Hierro due to his technique, but on the physical level he is stronger and he is much faster."[45]

International career[edit]


Varane was a France youth international having earned caps at under-18 and under-21 level. Prior to playing for the under-18 team, he was called up to the under-17 team, but did not make an appearance.[8] Varane made his debut with the under-18 team on 24 August 2010 in a friendly match against Denmark. On his debut, he scored the final goal in a 2–0 victory.[46] Varane turned down subsequent call-ups to the under-18 team because of his increased participation with the Lens first team and, as a result, missed the Tournoi de Limoges and a tournament in Israel.[6] On 3 February 2011, he was called up to the under-21 team by coach Erick Mombaerts for the first time for a friendly match against Slovakia.[47] Varane described the call up as "a huge surprise".[48] He earned his first under-21 cap and start in the match against Slovakia playing the entire match in a 3–1 win.[49] On 15 November, Varane scored his first under-21 goal in a 2–0 2013 Euro U-21 qualifying win over Slovakia. The victory ensured France qualification to at least the competition's qualifying playoffs.[50]


In August 2012, Varane was called to the full French national team squad for a friendly against Uruguay, but was an unused substitute.[51] He started his first match for France on 22 March 2013 in a qualifier for the World Cup against Georgia, a 3–1 victory.[52] On 13 May 2014, he was included in Didier Deschamps' squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.[53]

On 15 June 2014, he partnered Mamadou Sakho in central defence during Les Bleus' first World Cup fixture – a 3–0 defeat of Honduras.[54] He was also in the starting line-up for the second group match against Switzerland and the knockout matches against Nigeria and Germany, as France were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the Germans.

On 11 July, Varane was named on the three-man shortlist for the tournament's Best Young Player award.[55] On 14 October, Varane became the youngest player to captain France when he took over from Blaise Matuidi at half time in a 3–0 win over Armenia.[56] He was then selected as the team's starting captain for a home friendly against Sweden on 18 November, where he scored his first international goal to give Les Bleus a 1–0 win.[57]

On 24 May 2016, he was ruled out of UEFA Euro 2016 with a thigh injury, and was replaced by Adil Rami.[58]

Personal life[edit]

Varane is married to his long time girlfriend Camille Tytgat.[59]

Career statistics[edit]


Correct as of 21 May 2017[60]
Club Season League Cup1 Europe Other2 Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Lens 2010–11 23 2 1 0 24 2
Real Madrid 2011–12 9 1 2 1 4 0 0 0 15 2
2012–13 15 0 7 2 11 0 0 0 33 2
2013–14 14 0 2 0 7 0 0 0 23 0
2014–15 27 0 4 2 12 0 3 0 46 2
2015–16 26 0 0 0 7 0 33 0
2016–17 22 1 3 1 9 2 3 0 37 4
Total 113 2 18 6 50 2 6 0 187 10
Career total 136 4 19 6 50 2 6 0 211 12

1 Includes Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Copa del Rey matches.
2 Includes Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup matches.


As of match played 15 November 2016[61]
National team Year Apps Goals
France 2013 4 0
2014 13 1
2015 10 1
2016 8 0
Total 35 2

International goals[edit]

Score and result list France's goal tally first.
No. Date Venue Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 18 November 2014 Stade Vélodrome, Marseille  Sweden 1–0 1–0 Friendly
2. 26 March 2015 Stade de France, Saint-Denis  Brazil 1–0 1–3 Friendly



Real Madrid


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External links[edit]