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Varane says France team-mate Areola can challenge Courtois for Madrid No.1 shirt

9:15 PM IST 09/09/19
Alphonse Areola France 2019
After leaving PSG for La Liga, Areola faces a struggle for playing time at the Bernabeu, but his international colleague thinks he is up to the task

Raphael Varane says his France international team-mate Alphonse Areola has every chance of breaking into the first team at Real Madrid, after joining on loan from Paris Saint-Germain.

The 26-year-old goalkeeper moved to the Bernabeu late in the summer transfer window, with Keylor Navas going in the opposite direction in a deal reported to be worth €15 million (£14m/$17m).

Former Chelsea keeper Thibaut Courtois is Zinedine Zidane’s current No.1, and France boss Didier Deschamps has expressed his concern that Areola won’t get enough playing time to perform properly for his country.

But defender Varane thinks Areola is good enough to challenge Courtois for the starting spot.

“We have been able to talk a little bit, of course,” Varane said in a press conference. “He is happy to come to Madrid.

“He will be very well received. Anything can happen in football, and we’ll see if he will be able to play regularly in Madrid.

“I know his qualities. He has cards to play and I hope for him that he is going to have a good season. He is ready for it.

“He has confidence in his ability, and we will help him settle in.”

Courtois has played in all three of Madrid’s matches in La Liga so far this season, though he is yet to keep a clean sheet. Zidane’s side, like rivals Barcelona, have struggled to produce their best form in the opening weeks of the new campaign and they currently sit fifth with five points, four behind early leaders Atletico Madrid.

But for the time being, Varane’s focus is on his international duty with France fighting to keep their grip on first place in Group H in Euro 2020 qualifying.

France are top on goal difference alone, tied with Turkey and Iceland – the two sides they face in October’s international break.

After last week’s 4-1 over Albania, Deschamps’ side face minnows Andorra on Tuesday in what will be France’s 100th game at the State de France.

“The stadium is very important for us,” Varane said. “There have been some great matches here.

“It’s home. We are happy to have this stadium, you think of Euro 2016, and especially [the World Cup in] 1998. We feel the support from the crowd and we’re very happy to play here.

“We will have to be on our guard. We will have more of the ball, but we have to make good use of it. There are no easy matches at international level and we have an opponent who will not give up.

“We know what to expect and we must not fall into the trap of thinking it will be easy.”