Many people have debated who is the best defender in the world and what makes a defender special. There should be no debate, at least not for a while, considering the best defender in the world was a teenager last year.
Raphael Varane, the 20-year-old France International, has shown the world the standard at which all defenders should be judged. At 6’3”, Varane possesses the ideal physical traits and characteristics that make-up a good center-half. Sold by French side Lens in 2011 for a meager €10 million to Real Madrid, Varane was on a direct flight to superstardom under the guidance of Jose Mourinho.
Varane reads the game like a grizzled veteran, always putting in the right tackle or intercepting a perfect pass. Playing in a side that boasted center-backs with the pedigree of Sergio Ramos, Pepe, Ricardo Carvalho and Raul Albiol. It was hard pressed to notice any of them with the performances Varane was putting in every time he stepped out on the pitch.
Never being beat for pace, attackers have found it hard to beat Varane. Showing no weakness, he forced his way into Mourinho’s first team plans. Varane is a methodical player with the tactical mind of a midfield general. His mentality is equally as impressive as his physical attributes. Pepe ended up being the sacrificial lamb, as people continued to wonder if Pepe was fit or just overtaken by the Frenchman.
Rumors have circulated over an impending bid from Manchester City for Pepe, as Varane has become first choice pairing with Ramos. Always an aerial threat, the young Frenchman has become an invaluable asset on set pieces, something Pepe has struggled with as of late.
It would be difficult to find a more complete defender than Varane, fulfilling his potential at such a young age; the sky is certainly the limit for the former Lens product.