Real Madrid are being made to sweat over Raphael Varane's future and the possibility of him leaving the club, with the centre-back drawing interest from Manchester United as his contract continues to run down.
United have held a long-term interest in the France international and tried to sign him in 2019, with Varane ultimately opting to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Goal has learned that the 27-year-old is now considering his future again and with his contract due to expire in 2022, Madrid are in the uncomfortable position of potentially needing to offload one of their key assets in the summer.
- How Arsenal legend Vieira and Chelsea loanee Gallagher have breathed new life into Crystal Palace
- Champions League 2021-22 Power Rankings: PSG & Man Utd slide after matchday one
- PSG beware! Grealish's dream Champions League debut suggests Man City star can take down Europe's best
- Can new England boss Wiegman dispel disappointments of Neville's tenure?
Varane holds all the aces
With Varane's contract due to expire next year, and the club no closer to agreeing an extension with the defender, the Frenchman is considering leaving when the summer transfer window opens.
Indeed, the former Lens star is in no rush to renew with Madrid, knowing that Zinedine Zidane's side lack the necessary finance amid the coronavirus crisis to offer him a substantial increase on his current deal.
Goal has discovered that Varane is open to a new challenge in a different league, opening the door to a number of Europe's top clubs, with many likely to be the market for a new centre-back in the summer.
And the longer the situation drags on without one of their key players having signed a new contract, the weaker Madrid's position becomes in terms of potentially negotiating a sale.
Varane would be able to hold talks with foreign clubs over a possible move on a free transfer in January 2022 and, should the 27-year-old decide his future lies elsewhere, Madrid would essentially be forced into a sale before it's too late.
With so much uncertainty over Sergio Ramos's future - with the veteran Madrid captain's contract expiring this summer - the last thing the Spanish club needs is more question marks over the future of another of their star players in defence.
Man Utd's interest in Varane
Manchester United have tracked Varane's progress for a number of years now, with the Red Devils frequently referenced whenever there are question marks over the World Cup winner's future.
Indeed, they, along with Paris Saint-Germain, were keen on signing him in 2019 with the player - who preferred a switch to the French capital at the time - eventually deciding to stay put following the return of Zidane as head coach.
Goal has learned that United, who are keen on signing a new central defensive partner for Harry Maguire, have been in touch with Varane's agents in the past and the likelihood is that they would be interested in exploring a transfer again, should Varane become available.
The Red Devils may also be encouraged by the fact that the player and his representatives have joined the CAA Base sports talent agency, whose portfolio of players are predominantly based in the Premier League.
That said, there is caution within the corridors of power at Old Trafford that United's interest could well be used as a bargaining chip to secure a better deal for the player, which has happened in the past, most notably with Varane's team-mate Ramos.