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Rio Ferdinand says Raphael Varane must have been like a "rabbit in the headlights" when he arrived at Old Trafford last summer due to the massive gulf in standards between Real Madrid and Manchester United.
The Frenchman had something of a nondescript debut season for United despite arriving from Spain as one of the world's top centre backs in his prime and with 18 major honours to his name.
He and Harry Maguire struggled to form any sort of effective partnership at the back as the Red Devils shipped a whopping 57 goals en route to their worst ever finish in Premier League history.
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Ferdinand, who won six Premier League titles during a trophy-laden 12 year stint at Old Trafford, insists Varane can hardly be blamed for his poor start after swapping Madrid's "world class" setup for United's amateurish one.
"He went from a functioning team … all players playing to their maximum consistently, to an absolute reverse situation where the team has zero functionality, no confidence, no guidance and no structure of where they're going," the former England defender said.
"He's gone into an alien scenario where he's going 'woah, I've not seen this since probably playing youth team football'.
"So to go from that world class culture on a daily basis to what he has a Man United I think it's a huge, huge shift.
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"He's probably sitting there, he's like a rabbit in headlights thinking 'wow what is this?'"
Varane followed Jadon Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo through the door at Old Trafford last summer as part of a £126 million splurge that was supposed to catapult United back into the title picture. But instead, their on-field woes worsened during a season riddled with dressing-room squabbles, captaincy disputes, managerial sackings and hierarchical departures.
The arrival of Erik ten Hag offers some optimism, for the time being at least, though Ferdinand says Varane will need to up his form up immediately or risk facing the chop – especially with the club eying moves for Matthijs de Ligt and Jurrien Timber.
"[Varane] hasn't been the player that we expected him to be when he came here, I think he would sit there and tell you that, and he'll be thinking 'I've got to up my levels next year'," Ferdinand added.
"I'll be interested to see what happens with Varane, [Victor] Lindelof and Maguire, [Eric] Bailly as well, I think one or two of those will go."
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