Manchester United are in desperate need of short-term success. Their fanbase has become seriously unruly and, for now, Manchester is blue.
However, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer isn’t too far away from having a power-packed squad capable of challenging for the Premier League title as well as being competitive in the Champions League too.
With Jadon Sancho finally on their books, United’s defence looked like it could be a source of their issues next season. That was until a deal in principle was agreed with Real Madrid for want-away defender Raphael Varane, with the fee being an estimated £41m.
On the other hand, Arsenal are at the heart of a major rebuild. Staff, players and fans alike know that they aren’t within touching distance of immediate glory, they are looking for long-term success.
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Therefore, the pending signing of English defender Ben White from Brighton for £50million is a wise piece of business from the Gunners.
So despite being purchased with two completely different goals, some have jumped to the conclusion that United signing Varane is a far better piece of business than Arsenal purchasing White. But are they really comparable? Is it a case of ability vs longevity?
Who do you think is the better signing? Comment below
French defender Varane has had a trophy-filled career so far, winning: three La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, one Copa del Ray, four FIFA Club World Cup titles as well the 2018 World Cup.
The 28-year-old is certainly talented, he wouldn’t have made 382 appearances for Madrid if he wasn’t.
He will provide a strong, experienced voice in the dressing room and give his attacking teammates some assurance that all is well in defence.
Varane is a fast, strong and complete defender. He flourishes in a high-pressing line due to his quick thinking and energy but is just as comfortable sitting deeper and putting his body on the line on the edge of the box.
Solskjaer needed a partner who is just as good as England’s Euro 2020 hero Harry Maguire to challenge for titles, he has found one.
Comparatively, White lacks the experience of Varane but is equally a competent defender.
The 23-year-old is a true modern-day centre-back. He plays out from the back well and is willing to push forward and join the attack when appropriate too.
White is comfortably more versatile than Varane, being able to play as a right-back, right wing-back and as a central midfielder too, which truly highlights his passing ability and how well he reads the game.
The former Peterborough, Newport County and Leeds loanee only truly lacks in the aerial ability department, with his height and jumping making contesting for long balls against big, powerful forwards, like Harry Kane and Edinson Cavani, tricky.
In 36 Premier League appearances for Brighton last season he always read the game well, looked assured in possession and was destined for a big move.
At 28, Varane is in his prime years as a central defender. He is at a stage in his career where he has made mistakes, knows his job inside out and is ready to cap off his career with success for a few seasons.
United have secured the former Lens man on a four-year contract, which can be extended by another year, so they will have the defender for what should be his best years.
Alongside Luke Shaw, Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Varane is the missing piece in the puzzle for United. Solskjaer has no excuses for not delivering winning trophies from this point onwards – assuming they don’t lose Paul Pogba in this transfer window.
It is reported that Arsenal will secure White on a four-year deal as well, but, although the same length of contract, their signing is still improving. He is far from the best he can be.
Although he will slot into the Gunners defence with relative ease, he will need to improve along with the rest of the squad to make Mikel Arteta’s men competitive again.
Though that shouldn’t be an issue given the praise that Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa and Brighton manager Graham Potter have both praised the prospect’s work ethic and desire to learn.
Arsenal will be able to mould White into the defender that they need.
Of course, paying big money for a player that has never played for a top-half side is a risk, but it is an educated one based on the likelihood that White could be one of the best defenders in the league in the future.
Overall, both signings suit what both clubs need. Is it fair to compare them now when one is bought with the future in mind? Not really. You cannot fairly compare a finished product with a work in progress.
Varane currently has more ability than White, but he isn’t going to improve much more and White will be around for many more seasons to come and could improve above and beyond him in the future.
United’s signing provides the club with the chance to win silverware immediately, whereas Arsenal’s soon-to-be signing brings an already-assured defender into the changing room who can improve into a player that can help the club step up from being a top-half side to a top-four side.
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