Chelsea have reportedly taken the lead in the chase for Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane, who is also on Manchester United's radar with a view to a move in the summer.

The France international has little over a year remaining in his contract with the Spanish club and is yet to accept the offer of an extension, which could force them to cash in on the defender during the upcoming summer transfer window.

Varane has been ever present in Zinedine Zidane's starting XI this season but according to the Daily Mail, via Mundo Deportivo, the 28-year-old remains unconvinced about his long-term future at the Santiago Bernabeu. He is said to be ready to seek greener pastures, with the English Premier League said to be his next destination.

The report claims that Chelsea are now the frontrunners in the chase for Varane and are said to be ready to stump up the £61 million needed to prise him away from Real. They are certain to face stiff competition for the Frenchman, who is regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe.

The Red Devils have been keen admirers of Varane and were said to be leading the race for his signature. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is desperate to bring in a long-term defensive partner for Harry Maguire and has identified the Real star as the ideal candidate.

The £61 million asking price is not going to put off United, who are very well capable of going head-to-head in a bidding war with Premier League rivals Chelsea. There is a third team interested in Varane in Paris Saint-Germain, another club that will have little issue with the hefty sum demanded by the La Liga giants.

Thomas Tuchel has a number of central defenders like Thiago Silva, Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger and Kurt Zouma. He has used different pairings since taking over, but is said to want to bolster the area in the summer.

Silva's long-term future remains unclear with the Brazilian defender's one-year deal from last summer coming to an end in June. Tuchel will be able to make a direct comparison between Varane and the defenders at his disposal when the Blues take on Zidane's side in the semi-final of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Raphael Varane
Raphael Varane suffers muscular injury during Real's win over Dortmund Getty