10 things you need to know about Raphael Varane PLUS watch him in action

Manchester United are hoping to fend off interest from the likes of Barcelona, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund to sign Lens centre-back Raphael Varane.

But what do we know about the French U-21 international? Here's the Football Spy with all the answers...

1) Raphael Varane was born in Lille on April 25, 1993. His parents hail from the Caribbean island of Martinique, but the youngster has so represented the country of his birth internationally.

2) Although predominantly a central defender, Varane can also play further forward as a defensive midfielder, or drop back and fulfill the sweeper role. He stands 6'3" in his socks, but has an agile and athletic build that combines pace with power.

3) A prodigious talent, he was snapped up by local club AS Hellemmes while just seven years old. Several clubs - including Lille - were interested in taking Varane on, but he eventually moved to Lens as a nine year-old.

4)  He quickly progressed through the youth ranks at Lens and, in the 2008-09 season, helped the club's youth team land the national Under-16 league title.

5) A quick learner, he was promoted to the Under-19s while still just 16 and was offered his first professional contract in the summer of 2010.

6) He got his big break when Alaeddine Yahia suffered an injury shortly before Lens' league match with Montpellier on November 6, 2010. The 17 year-old Varane stepped in and helped his side to a 2-0 victory - only the club's third clean sheet that season. You can see the highlights here:

7) His next first-team appearance wasn't so spectacular: a 4-1 defeat to Brest on November 30. Varane went on to make a total of 20 appearances for Lens, and scored his first goal in a 1–1 draw with Caen in May 2011.

8) The youngster's performances brought him to the attention of some of Europe's top scouts, leading to Lens offering him an improved contract in February, 2011. Varane signed the two year-extension, tying him to the club until 2015. However, the side finished the season in 19th place, and it is believed he will be available following their relegation.

9) He's been capped at Under-18 and Under-21 level by France. Which means he will already have at least have one friend at Old Trafford: similarly capped midfielder Paul Pogba.

10) He's been described by Lens youth coach Eric Assadourian as a "truly first class player" who is "comfortable on both the tactical and technical level". As this particularly skilful saving challenge proves...

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williamhill.com

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