Ten Hag could land an ideal Varane heir with Man Utd swoop for 20 y/o “prospect”

Manchester United face a hectic run of fixtures before Christmas that could make or break their season depending on their success or failure in those matches.

The Old Trafford side have two vital Champions League ties against Bayern Munich and Galatasaray to come, while they also have to face Newcastle United, Chelsea and Liverpool in the Premier League.

If Erik ten Hag can get through this tough run, and it is a big if, it might just be the catalyst the club need to improve during the second half of the campaign and challenge for a top four spot in the table.

Having won just nine of the first 18 matches in the current season, Ten Hag may look to strengthen his faltering side during the January transfer window, especially as some of his players are attracting attention from elsewhere.


Casemiro is reportedly being targeted by clubs in Saudi Arabia according to 90min and this could leave a big void in the centre of United’s midfield.

The riches offered by the Middle East could tempt the Brazilian into making the move to Asia and this may mean Ten Hag delves into the transfer market.

Man Utd transfer news

While their midfield options could be lighter with Casemiro potentially departing, Ten Hag will also be keen on strengthening his defensive options ahead of the second half of the season.

The Red Devils have conceded 30 goals in just 18 matches this season already and something needs to be done to fix this leaky defence.

According to German outlet Bild (via TEAMtalk), United are keeping tabs on young French defender Castello Lukeba ahead of the January window with hopes of luring him to England.


The 20-year-old secured a move to RB Leipzig from Lyon in the summer, despite United showing interest in the youngster earlier this year.

Scouts from Old Trafford, according to the report, have been monitoring the centre-back this season, although a move might be deemed slightly unrealistic in the next few months given that he has only been in the Bundesliga since the summer.

He could emerge as a dream heir to Raphael Varane should he make the move to Manchester, especially as the former Real Madrid defender has been linked with a move away.

Raphael Varane’s future at Man Utd

At the beginning of November, TEAMtalk revealed that Varane was attracting attention from clubs in Saudi Arabia, and they were looking to make a move for the defender in January.

With just 18 months left on his current contract, the next transfer window could be the ideal time for Ten Hag to cash in on the 30-year-old and recoup a fee similar to the one they shelled out for him just over two years ago.

Having established himself as one of the finest centre-backs on the continent during his spell with Madrid, Varane has become more and more injury-prone since arriving in Manchester.

Indeed, since the beginning of the 2021/22 season, the Frenchman has missed 38 matches due a variety of injury issues and he as not quite been at his brilliant best, with his absences not allowing him to find his rhythm on the pitch.

This season, the 30-year-old has started just four Premier League matches while he fails to rank in the top ten in the squad for accurate passes per game in the league (30.4) along with ranking in the 15th spot for tackles per game (0.6) and 19th for interceptions per game, clearly proving that he has not been an outstanding contributor offensively or defensively.

Injury problems could be catching up with the French titan as, even when he is fit enough to feature, Varane has not been quite at the same level which saw him win four Champions League crowns with Madrid along with securing a World Cup winners medal for France in 2018.

By signing Lukeba, Ten Hag could unearth a natural heir to the United defender at the turn of the year.

Castello Lukeba’s career statistics

The young gem made his debut for Lyon during the 2021/22 season, eventually featuring 30 times in what was a breakthrough season, and his performances were widely praised.

Journalist Josh Bunting waxed lyrical about the defender in December 2021 following a match against Metz, saying: “Castello Lukeba again impressive for Lyon at Metz , really sharp young player not just getting the goal but he’s slotting into that back 3 very well, he’s a very accurate passer of the ball,gets on it and can move it quickly. Also has a good pass selection about him. Big prospect.”

Domestic league statistics this season

Raphael Varane

Castello Lukeba

Accurate passes per game



Tackles per game



Interceptions per game



Clearances per game



Total duels won per game



As you can see within the table above, Lukeba has outperformed Varane at league level this term due to the defensive impact he has had on the pitch.

Another 38 appearances followed last term before he secured his big move to Leipzig in the summer and with his recent performances in Germany, Lukeba is beginning to look like the real deal.

The 20-year-old ace has already made 16 appearances, including four in the Champions League, and is looking settled at his new club this term.

Not only does he rank second among his teammates for accurate passes per game in the Bundesliga (57.5), but the defender also ranks in the top ten for tackles (0.7) and interceptions (0.3) per game, demonstrating how impressive he has been in defence.

Not only is he adept at passing and dictating the play from the heart of the defence, but he has impressive physicality for someone so young. Lukeba has won 63% of his total duels – three per game – in the German top flight this term and his ability to get the better of opposition players in one one-on-one battles is excellent.

[FBCharts] Castello Lukeba

The Leipzig sensation featured for the France U21 side on 14 occasions before finally making his debut against Scotland last month in a 4-1 victory, coming on with just three minutes left.

With his impressive performances this term, however, he could potentially sneak into the Euro 2024 squad next summer, and this would be the catalyst for him to really show his worth on the big stage.

Lukeba is certainly following in the footsteps of Varane and, if given continued exposure at the highest level, he may eventually reach his level.

United need another centre-back desperately and Lukeba is a fascinating prospect. While a move in the next few weeks might be out of the question, the Dutchman should be doing everything he can to lure the youngster to Manchester sooner rather than later.

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