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Zidane has close eye on new Varane: Benoit Badiashile

The Real Madrid boss has his eye firmly on the tall and powerful 19-year-old center back who was handed his debut by Monaco against Kylian Mbappé at 17.

Benoit Badiashile, en un partido con el Mónaco.
NurPhotoNurPhoto via Getty Images

A man of many talents, Zinedine Zidane is as much a keen-eyed scout as a successful coach. Since hanging up his football boots, the Real Madrid boss has kept a constant eye on Ligue 1 to monitor the latest young pearls emerging from the French championship.

And the latest to attract his attention is Benoit Badiashile, Monaco’s up-and-coming 19-year-old center back. Standing at a powerful 1.92 meters (6’ 3”), Badiashile made his debut at 17 and is considered one of the most promising young defenders in France, which he represents at U-19 level. In short, a new Raphael Varane.

In fact, Zidane can boast of being the man to have recommended Varane (now 27) to Madrid back in 2011 when the player was still preparing for high-school final exams. Zidane initiated the negotiations personally with a phone call before Madrid managed to finalise the operation by paying Lens €10 million plus variables, despite the fact that Arsenal and PSG were offering more money.

Raphael Varane with Karim Benzema.
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Raphael Varane with Karim Benzema.REALMADRID.COM

Badiashile the right fit for Real Madrid

Badiashile possesses all the qualities that Madrid is desperately seeking: a left-footed center back who can complement the right-footed starters – Ramos and Varane. The young Monaco player joins Zidane’s list of potential future defenders, which also includes Dayot Upamecano (Leipzig), Gabriel (Lille) and Mohammed Salisu (Valladolid).

Another plus factor is Badiashile’s low price tag. He has a contract with Monaco until 2024 and is valued at between €35 and €40 million, mainly because he has not yet fallen under the radar of Europe’s most powerful clubs. He had been very high on the list of desired left-footed central defenders for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, though the Premier League club finally opted for Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake. Last season, Wolves had a €34 million offer for Badiashile rejected by Monaco, according to L'Èquipe.

At Madrid, both the club and Zidane agree on the need to watch out for young center backs ready to make the leap to the Bernabéu before their price makes them unattainable. That is what had been attempted with Eder Militao, although the Brazilian full back has struggled for prominence in his first season at the club.

Zidane has a keen eye for spotting talent.
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Zidane has a keen eye for spotting talent.Denis DoyleGetty Images

Badiashile debuted against Mbappé

The fact that Monaco handed Badiashile his debut as a minor against PSG and Kylian Mbappé is a sign that the Principality club know they have a rare talent on their hands, although one that still obviously lacks experience. "I have to improve my concentration," admitted the youngster in a self-criticical reflection after he was promoted to the first team bench with the arrival of coach Robert Moreno.

When Madrid signed Varane after Zizou's tip-off, then-coach Jose Mourinho placed little responsibility on the newcomer, allowing him to learn his trade alongside the other four much more seasoned centre backs – Ramos, Pepe, Albiol and Carvalho.

However, the situation now is different due to the economic context and, as such, there is less scope for risk. Madrid are now in savings mode (Mbappé, Camavinga, Haaland ... they will have to wait) as the club looks to weather the losses due to the coronavirus crisis and will only move for a new centre back if Nacho leaves this summer.


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