Date: 13th November 2017 at 12:00pm
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Real Madrid could finally be set to secure the signing of David De Gea from Manchester United, on the condition that Raphael Varane moves to Old Trafford in exchange. That is according to Don Balon, who claims that the Spanish goalkeeper, 26, could complete a move to the Santiago Bernabeu which has long been mooted, but as yet has failed to materialise.

According to the report, the inclusion of French centre back Varane in any deal could finally tempt Jose Mourinho into relinquishing his superstar number one for a long-expected return to his native city. The deal was nearly done in summer 2015, but failed to get over the line on deadline day.

It is a swap deal which could be of great benefit to both clubs. Madrid are still seeking the Galactico standard of goalkeeper to fill the boots of Iker Casillas. United, meanwhile, have been lacking the defensive solidarity required as the basis of a sustained title challenge since the departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

Bernabeu legend Casillas’ shot-stopping abilities have only been partially replaced by Keylor Navas, whilst the Costa Rican’s steadily reliable presence has generally failed to reach the lofty standards set by his infamous predecessor.

The 30-year-old has come in for particular criticism this season, as Madrid’s shaky start to the campaign has highlighted defensive deficiencies which have often been traced back to Navas’ lack of any real star quality and presence between the posts for Los Blancos.

De Gea has a proven record in recent seasons of producing the kind of performances which can ease the pressure on his defence, regularly commanding the consistency of world-class displays in the United goal which can win the unlikeliest of points for his team.

His three-consecutive Player of the Year awards at United between the 2013-14 and 2015-16 seasons are the clearest indication of his importance and value to his club. Mourinho’s side have grown to depend on his quality and presence as the last line of defence at ever-increasing rates since his move to Old Trafford from Atletico Madrid in 2011.

De Gea could well prove to be the man that Real, the bitter city rivals of his former employers, have been seeking to truly replace fellow Spaniard Casillas, a man who he has already succeeded at international level as Spain’s number one.

As for Varane, the Frenchman may provide United with the stature of defender which they have themselves been craving since the moving on of former heroes which once formed their defensive bedrock.

The shortcomings at Old Trafford in attempting to replace the likes of Vidic and Ferdinand has largely characterised their falling away from the levels of consistency under Sir Alex Ferguson which once made them a near-impenetrable force.

Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof are among those who have been brought in over the years to form the new incarnation of United’s defensive setup. To this point, with varying degrees of promise for long-term success, the new wave has largely failed to convince. At best, they have flattered to deceive.

Varane is a world-class defender with presence and power, sound technical ability and a top-level CV which boasts three UEFA Champions League wins at the heart of Madrid’s rear-guard. The Frenchman may finally provide Mourinho with the solution to United’s defensive uncertainties.