Raphael Varane has opened up over why he and his Real Madrid team-mates gifted Ferland Mendy a brick for Christmas.
Left-back Mendy signed for Los Blancos in the summer from Lyon, and after initially struggling to make an impression at the Bernabeu because of injury issues, the 24-year-old has begun to establish himself as an important member of the starting XI ahead of Marcelo.
His chances of playing regularly were aided following Saturday’s derby success over Atletico Madrid, a fixture in which the France international delivered a decisive pass for Karim Benzema to score the game’s only goal.
And his integration into the squad has gone smoothly, despite the unusual gift.
“We gave him that because in training, sometimes, he kicks his team-mates and is very hard,” Varane explained. “He knows it’s a joke.
“We know that he is very good defensively and the he has a tremendous physique and helps the team a lot.
“Marcelo know the quality he has too, which is very good. It’s great to have a squad with such great competition and quality.”
After a slow start to the season, Madrid have gained momentum and are now six points clear of Barcelona at the top of the standings after four successive wins, albeit having played a game more.
“It is important to continue without losing, to picked up points, especially today in a derby,” Varane said after the 1-0 win. “We are in a good moment and we want to continue like this.
“The dynamics of the squad are very good. Each player will give their maximum to the group, and that is our strength. We have to take advantage of the good moment, enjoy it, but also keep the cool heads that we always need.”
Varane, however, would not be drawn into discussing the future of international team-mate Kylian Mbappe, who has been linked with a summer move to the Bernabeu.
“We know the player he is. He is not in Madrid, so I am not going to talk about him much more. I have already talked about him and you know that I have a great affection for him,” he concluded.