Varane explains why he put the phone down on Zidane
Raphaël Varane was the special guest on Thursday's El Larguero. The defender spoke about being whistled by the Bernabéu and Zidane's cold call...
Raphaël Varane was the special guest on last night's El Larguero programme. The Real Madrid central defender chatted to Manu Carreño about the past seven years he has spent with Los Blancos, Mourinho trying top lure him to Old Trafford and being too stressed to deal with a cold call from Zidane...
Avoiding Spanish clubs in Europe
Would you like Real Madrid to draw Barça in the Champions League quarter finals?
I'd prefer not to meet another Spanish side. The Champions League gives you the chance to get to know different styles of football, other teams... If we can avoid a Spanish side then that would be better for us.
There's never been a Barça-Real Madrid Champions League final…
It would be nice, wouldn't it?
Would you like that to happen?
Sure, why not.
Better than meeting in the quarter finals…
Yes, I'd prefer to meet them in the final.
Keeping abreast of football news
Do you like to read the press and keep up to date about what is being written about the team?
I do, but less now than before (laughs). It's important to keep a little bit of distance from all of that. As you get older and more experienced, you know that one day you're flavour of the month, then the next you're not. You need to keep some distance to be able to focus on what is important - doing our job out on the pitch. It's important to be calm and not pay too much attention to what the papers say because in the end, it will just drive you mad.
Do you read AS most days?
I look at the important things. But I also read it to imrpove my Spanish.
How long did it take you to master the language?
About three months.
Does Bale speak more Spanish that we think?
Yes, he understands everything, he speaks well. He doesn't talk a lot but he speaks well.
The Spanish Federation take it for granted that Lucas Hernández is going to play for Spain but Deschamps has called him up for France. Were you surprised by that?
No because he's a good player. He's versatile, he can play in central defence or at left-back and he's a good defender. He's playing more this season and he is maturing and becoming a better player.
France's chances at 2018 World Cup Russia
Are France among the favourites to win the World Cup?
It's in a group of teams who could win it but it's very difficult to say who will lift the trophy. There are great teams like Brazil, Germany, Spain… But France has its strengths. We have a young team with a lot of talent and players with diverse qualities who compliment one another. We have a mix of experience and youth so we have have our strong points.
Who is the best French player right now?
That's difficult to answer. There are a lot of players who are playing well. Griezmann's in a good moment of form, Lloris is as dependable as ever. Mbappé is a young player with immense quality. He's only going to get better because he has a lot of talent and quality. He's already playing at a very high level considering how old he is.
Are you surprised that Benzema isn't back with the national team?
After everything that has happened, I'm not surprised because I know all about his situation. The coach has explained the score. He has his reasons and he's the one who decides.
Has Benzema been affected by all of this?
Yes. Playing for the national team is every footballer's dream. He has played a lot of games for France. He knows that a footballer's career is short and time passes quickly, and we have another World Cup coming up… He's a bit disappointed but he tries to focus on Madrid and give everything for the team.
Feeling the wrath of the Bernabéu
The Bernabéu is very demanding with the team...
It is very demanding but that's normal.
Have you ever been whistled by the fans…
How do you feel when you see one of your team mates being whistled?
The first thing I think of is my team mate and how I can help them. Then I think about the demands which are on us. I understand the high demands at a club like Real Madrid. It's also what makes the club strong - never being satisfied. When we win the Champions League, fans on the street will say: “Now let's win the next one”.
Does it surprise you when Cristiano gets whistled?
Cristiano is 100% committed, he gives everything. Sometimes he can make mistakes like we all do.
Does it annoy you when the Bernabéu whistles Cristiano and Benzema?
It annoys me when they whistle us. I'd prefer it if they got behind us and supported us. But then it's normal that they get angry, or ask for more from us. You have to understand both sides. But when a player is a bit down, it's important that the public and the rest of the team helps out. We need to be united.
What have you learned from Zidane?
Humility. For what he has achieved as a player and as a coach… It's as though he's never done anything, he is always trying to improve and better himself. He sets an example as a person, for the player he was, and for his mentality…
Taken aback by Zidane's phonecall
Is it true that you put the phone down on Zidane when he called you to sign for Real Madrid?
It was a little more complicated than that (laughs). That was a very difficult and intense period in my life. I turned professional with Lens that November. The team was in a complicated situation but we didn't drop down to the Second Division. As I was playing regularly, a lot of agents were calling me up for various different things… And at the same time I had exams at the end of the season. I knew that one say I would have to leave Lens, because the club wasn't in good shape economically. So I had a lot of things on my mind… Then, one afternoon Zizou called me, but I wasn't really sure if it was him or not. I hardly listened to what he said. I just thought: ‘This is all I need right now’ (laughs). But as I was listening I began to recognize his voice. I felt a bit stupid and didn't really know what to say. I was really stressed out so I said to him: ‘Ok, but I'm a bit busy at the moment. Can you call me another time?’. And I put the phone down. Years later and I still get reminded about it…
And didn't Mourinho call you to try and persuade you to join United?
No, not directly, no. There was contact, but he didn't call me directly.