If you speak to a Manchester United fan, they will tell you they're suddenly title contenders again.

United have already signed former Manchester City youngster Jadon Sancho to add another dimension to their attack, and have now agreed to sign Real Madrid's defender Raphael Varane.

The theory among Reds is that Varane will have the same impact that Virgil Van Dijk had on Liverpool and that Ruben Dias had on City. He's a world-class defender that United need, having finished a distant second to City last season.

MEN Sport understands Varane will join United in a deal worth just under €50m, and that the Frenchman has already been studying how he can improve their shaky defence. On paper, it's a superb bit of business for a player who has won everything - and a transfer that should concern City.

And in practice, he feels like a perfect addition for United, and one that should see Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side finally get a solid defence that should allow their attack to thrive. They're not a completely balanced side, even still, but have given themselves a better chance of getting closer to City.

However, as much a statement as signing Varane will be from United, City won't be too concerned - and not just in light of his two shocking performances against the Blues in 2020.

Plenty of comparisons will be made with Ruben Dias, but a look at both players' performances last season suggest the City man just edged a number of key metrics for defenders.

In all competitions last season, Dias made more blocks (0.6 per game) and tackles (0.9pg) than Varane (0.5 and 0.7), although the Frenchman bettered City's no.3 in terms of interceptions (1.1 per game versus 1.0) and clearances (3.6 vs 3.0).

Given United's relative struggles in defence last season, especially at set pieces, they will be encouraged by his 76 per cent aerial success rate with 2.2 challenges won in the air per game from 2.9 attempted. Dias attempted more aerial duels (3.2) but won only 61.3 per cent of those (2.0 per game).

This is why Varane is better suited for United than he would have been for City.

At the Etihad, a defender is asked to start attacks from the back and be as good in possession as anyone else in the XI. Dias last season attempted more passes per game (79.8 compared to 59), with a higher pass success rate (92.6 per cent against Varane's 90.2).

Varane might have achieved more accurate long balls than Dias, but the City man completed a significant 70.1 short passes per game while Varane completed just 49.3. Dias also lost possession fewer times per game than Varane, showing his importance to City's style.

In short, as much as Dias came in and adapted to City's style - City adapted to him as well.

They partnered him with John Stones more than they did with Aymeric Laporte and it brought out the best in both and complemented each other's games as much as possible. When United get to work with Varane, they could do worse than remember that they must work on finding the perfect partner for him.

The statistics show Varane will offer United a more no-nonsense approach to defending, which will be required at Old Trafford. And given Varane's slight weaknesses with the ball at his feet, they will have to find a way to ensure that doesn't become costly.

Depending on how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's defenders work together, that might mean making some difficult selection calls like City had to make with Laporte - however obvious the first choice partnership might look at first.

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