Raphael Varane gave an interview with L’Equipe in which he discussed his Real Madrid career to date and revealed that he was persuaded to stay at the Bernabéu last summer after talks with Florentino Pérez and Zinedine Zidane about his role in the side.
“I am an honest person and I need to speak frankly. I needed to understand what I had to do to gain more playing time. Zidane made his points clearly, above all what was important to him. We started over on a good basis and I have tried to pay back the confidence he has shown in me by playing me.”
Varane: "I have a special relationship with Mourinho"
Varane also spoke about his previous coaches at Madrid, José Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti, and his experience of working with them. “I had a special relationship with Mourinho. Under Ancelotti I played less but he did amazing things for Madrid and that’s what’s important. Since he left, I have improved. Maybe I would have played more when he was here if I was able to show that he could count on me in the crucial moments. There were fewer rotations then and we had to be at our best whenever the opportunity came up and I wasn’t able to do that. He made his choices and I can understand that. I have no regrets or bad feelings. I didn’t play as much as I would have liked but that gave me the opportunity to reflect and to evolve as a player.”
It took Varane some time to convince Zidane of his worth and last season he remained third choice behind Pepe and Sergio Ramos. However, this season, before the hamstring injury that has kept on the sidelines in recent weeks, he was the most-used player in the squad under the Real coach.
“Zidane arrived in the middle of the [2015-16] season and he had to make decisions quickly. It wasn’t easy for me. I needed more explanations than I was getting. We had a few disagreements but we were both able to change the other’s opinion. Since then, we have had a great relationship.”
The France defender, who will miss out on Les Bleus’ friendly against Spain on Tuesday as he continues his recovery, also explained how Zidane had helped to improve him as a player: “He told me take more risks; he prefers me to create five or six attacking situations, even if I lose the ball, than to stay in a comfort zone.”
"Real Madrid is a big deal and I'm still only 23"
On his future, Varane said he has no plans to leave and would like to retire at the Bernabéu if possible despite interest from abroad – particularly in the shape of his former boss Mourinho at Manchester United. “At the end of the day, I had to ask if Real Madrid shared my plan for my career, which was to play more. The president and the coach said that they did. From that moment on I have worked hard before and during training sessions. I am aware that Real Madrid is a big deal and I’m also aware that I’m only 23 and I’m coming to the end of my sixth season here. We’ve decided to talk at the end of the season [about a contract extension]. I would love to retire here. But ever since the start of my career I have learned to enjoy every minute because everything can move so quickly; I saw that at the European Championship.”
Follow the coverage match of the week 29 of the Liga Santander between: Real Madrid-Alavés