Chelsea ready to go ahead of Man United and pay £61m asking price for Varane

Chelsea have moved ahead of Manchester United in the race to sign wantaway Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, according to reports.

The Frenchman has a little over a year remaining on his contract that ends in June 2022 but the LaLiga giants could be forced to cash in on the defender should progress slow down over an extension.

Varane, who turned 28 on Sunday, has been a vital component of Zinedine Zidane's side having started all but five of Los Blancos' LaLiga and Champions League matches this term.

But according to Spanish news outlet Mundo Deportivo, Varane remains unconvinced about staying at Real and Chelsea are willing to pay the £61million needed to bring him over to Stamford Bridge.

The report says Real need to raise money to fund moves for star players such as Kylian Mbappe, and the expected arrival of David Alaba, also 28, on a free transfer from Bayern Munich can allow a current centre-back to leave.

Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be interested in Varane this summer as well as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Red Devils.

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has used several options at centre-back since arriving at the west London club in late January. Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Thiago Silva kept a clean sheet in the 1-0 win at West Ham, while Cesar Azpilicueta and Kurt Zouma have also featured there.

The future of summer signing Silva, who joined from Tuchel's former side PSG at the beginning of the season, is uncertain as his deal expires at the end of the current season.

Chelsea also have centre-back option Fikayo Tomori out on loan at Italian side AC Milan and the Rossoneri have already publicly expressed a desire to sign the Englishman permanently.

Varane can show Chelsea what they would be getting - should they decide to stump up the large fee for the Frenchman - in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final between Real and the Blues.

Zidane's side host Chelsea at their Valdebebas training ground on Tuesday night before taking part in the return-leg at Stamford Bridge on May 5.

Since joining Real from Lens a decade ago, Varane has won three LaLiga titles, four Champions League trophies and four FIFA Club World Cups with the Spanish giants.

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