Full Name: Raphaël Varane
Club: Real Madrid
Country: France
DOB: 25 April 1993 (age 21)
Height: 6’ 3”

When you are considered to be one of the best centerbacks in the game at the age of 21, you are definitely doing something right. Raphaël Varane is a special player, gifted with the ability to control a game from a defensive position and he is seen to be one of the most gifted developing players anywhere in the world. He has a set of characteristics that any coach would like to add to their team and he has already applied his talent in several key games, increasing his value to Real Madrid. This summer, he is set to play a huge role with the French squad as they look to make an impact on the world’s biggest stage.

So who exactly is Varane and what makes him such a talent? First, he is big, tall and strong - a commanding character in the backline who matches up with the strongest forwards in the game. This proved true when Real Madrid played Galatasary in the knock-out rounds last season. Varane completely dominated the match up with Didier Drogba who at the time was seen to be one of the strongest strikers around.

On the ball he is technically gifted, but he is also tactically astute and that is something the makes him a very special player. The top 100 defenders in the world can all tackle and make their name be known through strength, but having the awareness to fit a particular mold and follow a game plan that includes that particular defender as a possession vessel is very rare. On the ball, Varane is very comfortable and there is no sense of unease as he moves forward with the ball. Also along the same tactical lines, he has the ability to really read the game and position himself in the correct areas without giving up space for strikers to turn.

When a central defender has the ability to keep possession and find the correct pass, it automatically takes pressure off the midfield and allows for a higher comfort levels to attack. Former Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho (“the Special One”) picked out this trait in Varane in a recent interview and stated it was a primary reason why he was one of the best centerbacks currently in the game. During his breakout 2012/13 season, he played a key role in several El Clasico games (vs Barcelona) and also received rave results in Champions League action. It is his ability to really create an impact in big games that has attracted the attention of top coaches across Europe and he his name has frequently been part of transfer speculation.

This season, Varane has actually struggled with injury and hasn't appeared as much as he would have liked leading up to the World Cup. And with Pepe and Sergio Ramos keeping things extremely tight through 2014 at the heart of the Real defense, his appearances have been limited. But, he has still managed to make several key appearances and is set to lead the back line for France in Brazil. He made his first international start in March 2013 and will be a primary component in Didier Deschamps squad.

Raphael Varane France
Image via Raphael Varane

Raphaël Varane wears Nike Tiempo Legend V

As is the case with any central defenders in Spain, Varane wears the very reliable Nike Tiempo Legend V. The Tiempo series has been his boot of choice through his professional career, right back to his early days with French club Lens. Built to offer a more traditional level of performance with less glitz and glamour, the Tiempo Legend provides Varane with a solid foundation to simply get the job done. They are less technology and in many circles regarded as a more common sense option.

Since he likes to get on the ball a lot, Varane needs a boot that offers comfort and provides enough protection to be able to get stuck into meaty challenges. Where other lightweight boots fall short, the current 8.5oz Tiempo V is built in a more durable fashion and has to date received positive reviews as being one of the top options on the market for defensive styled players. Expect to see him wear the Total Crimson colorway in the build up to Brazil.