Erik ten Hag’s relationship with one of his key players at Manchester United – Raphael Varane – has reportedly deteriorated and is now damaged.
This is because of Varane’s continued exclusion from the starting XI in favour of a centre-back partnership of Harry Maguire and Jonny Evans despite the four-time Champions League winner being fully fit.
In yet another game against FC Copenhagen, Ten Hag gave the nod to Maguire and Evans, with Varane having to be content with a place on the bench.
It followed the third match in a row that Varane was not used from the start since Ten Hag told reporters during the defeat at the hands of Manchester City that the French defender did not start due to “tactical reasons.”
An unfortunate Evans injury just 15 minutes into proceedings at Parken forced Ten Hag’s hand and he was forced to thrust Varane into action, alongside Maguire.
As the World Cup winner was coming on, the cameras spotted him looking extremely glum. He and Ten Hag seemed very frosty with each other at the touchline.
Last season, Varane was a crucial player for United and alongside Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez, the three formed a solid spine that was the backbone for much of the team’s success during Ten Hag’s maiden season in England.
However, this campaign has been a different story and according to The Telegraph, there are fractions in the relationship between Ten Hag and Varane.
“Ten Hag could regularly be heard praising Varane’s leadership and mentality last season but their relationship is understood to have become strained in recent weeks, even if the Dutchman denied on Friday that there was any underlying issue with the player.”
“Nonetheless, it is thought that Ten Hag and Varane had a discussion in the wake of United’s 3-0 defeat to Manchester City a fortnight ago when the manager claimed he had been dropped for “tactical” reasons at a time when the defender was said to still be wrestling with a fitness issue.”
James Ducker adds, “Either way, Varane has fallen out of favour – the extent to which may become more apparent against Luton.”
During his presser ahead of the Luton Town game at Old Trafford on Saturday, Ten Hag vehemently denied that there are problems between him and Varane.
The Dutch coach insisted that the 30-year-old’s peculiar exclusion from the starting XI is down to the need to foster balance at the back.
With Evans ruled out of action, all eyes will be on Ten Hag to see which defensive combination he opts for against Luton.