OLD TRAFFORD outcast Donny van de Beek could have a pivotal role in Manchester United’s bid to land Raphael Varane.
United have held initial talks with Real Madrid about signing the French centre-back, who would cost around £50million.
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But Real are also keen on taking Van de Beek, 24, to the Bernabeu on a year-long loan, with a commitment to buy 12 months down the line.
And United believe that gives them a key bargaining tool in their pursuit of Varane, who tops their list of centre-back targets.
Varane, 28, has one more season left on his deal and can sign a pre-contract agreement in January.
As much as the Spanish giants would love to keep him, they also do not want to lose him on a free — especially as they are in such a cash-strapped state at the moment.
So United are more likely to play ball over Van de Beek, if it gives them a little wriggle room in signing Varane, who is also on Paris Saint-Germain’s radar.
Ironically the Red Devils pipped Real to sign the Dutch midfielder in a £35m move from Ajax last summer.
Madrid had got as far as agreeing personal terms but were forced to pull the plug when they failed to move on some of their current midfielders.
But they have stayed in touch with Van de Beek’s advisers after his move to Old Trafford turned into something of a nightmare.
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They are willing to pay a £2m loan fee and pick up all his wages ahead of a permanent deal next summer, when they expect to be in a healthier financial position.
And Old Trafford top brass, keen to recoup much of their initial outlay, are prepared to bend a little if that means they get Varane, who has been with Real for ten years.
United knocked back an earlier loan enquiry from Ajax, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer telling Van de Beek before the end of last season that he still had faith in him.
Van de Beek arrived in England as one of Holland’s new golden generation, yet made only four Premier League starts as he struggled to adapt.
But he has refused to rock the boat, impressing Solskjaer and his coaching team with his attitude and commitment.
Meanwhile, forward Mason Greenwood has already started his pre- season training, a few days before United officially return to work.
Greenwood, 19, was forced to pull out of England’s Euros squad with an underlying injury — but has been working with the conditioners and in the gym this week.
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