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Ten Hag reveals why Varane is not playing amid rift rumours

Ten Hag reveals why Varane is not playing amid rift rumours

Erik ten Hag has emphasized that his rapport with Raphaël Varane is intact, asserting that the French player’s reduced playing time is attributed to Harry Maguire’s impressive performances rather than any discord in their relationship.

Despite being the primary center-back last season, Varane has found himself on the bench in three of Manchester United‘s last four matches, including the recent 3-0 defeat to Manchester City in the derby.

But asked whether there was an issue with the former France international, Ten Hag said: “Absolutely not. As I said, it is about tactical reasons why I chose these partnerships. I think Harry [Maguire] and Jonny [Evans] did well.

“Last year Harry didn’t play a lot, so I was very happy with Rapha’s performances. I have always been happy with his performance. But in this moment, Harry is playing very well and there is internal competition.”

Evans will be sidelined for the upcoming Premier League match against Luton Town at Old Trafford, as Manchester United confirmed on Friday that the Northern Ireland defender has sustained a thigh strain and will be unavailable for the next few weeks.

With Evans out, Erik ten Hag faces the decision of selecting from Varane, Maguire, and Victor Lindelöf.

Although Varane and Maguire shared the defensive duties for most of the 4-3 defeat to FC Copenhagen on Wednesday following Evans’ substitution, Ten Hag suggested that they might not be the optimal pairing in the backline.

“There are moments in certain games where they can play together and they have already proven they can do it,” said the United manager.

“But the buildup is not that fluid when one of them is playing from the left centre-back position because I think Licha [Lisandro Martínez], obviously, Luke Shaw, obviously, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelof, they are right-footed, but they can play really comfortably with their left and make the right angles, then you can construct a better formation where you can start to play.”

Despite leading in Premier League clean sheets last season, Manchester United has encountered defensive challenges in the current campaign.

Erik ten Hag’s squad has conceded 30 goals in 17 games, with 10 of those goals conceded in their last four matches.

The Dutch manager acknowledges that a substantial injury list has contributed to these defensive issues, but he concedes that the players at his disposal should still be delivering better performances.

“Every time you have to swap your back four, it is difficult,” said Ten Hag.

“We had a new keeper coming in and every time you form a new back four and they know the rules and principles, but the routines are not the same.

“Communication is so important, but that is all split-second decisions. You need that cooperation and you need it 100% because when it doesn’t work, then you concede goals at this level.

“So far, I think we could almost never play the starting XI I wanted. But that is never an excuse. We want to win games and we have good players across the squad and they can all do the job.”

Ten Hag reveals why Varane is not playing amid rift rumours

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