Raphael Varane Man Utd
Manchester United signed Raphael Varane from Real Madrid in 2021 Lindsey Parnaby/AFP News

Real Madrid are playing their final La Liga match of 2023 on Wednesday night, and it remains to be seen how well they can cope in the absence of David Alaba, who was injured over the weekend. Reports out of Spain are claiming that the club could be considering a sensational comeback for Raphael Varane, who left the club in 2021 to join Manchester United.

The Frenchman unexpectedly left the 14-time European Champions to join the Red Devils, who were and arguably still are in one of the worst eras in their history. Varane made the move to the Premier League amid high hopes of facing a new challenge and raising his profile, but the opposite happened.

Even with the short-lived return of Cristiano Ronaldo, the Red Devils failed to recapture past glory. They have been on a constant struggle to "rebuild" under various managers, with current boss Erik ten Hag facing a ton of pressure.

The club is currently all the way down in seventh place in the Premier League table, and they finished at the bottom of Group A in the Champions League, failing to even drop down to the Europa League. Furthermore, Varane has fallen out of favour, and has not appeared to be a happy camper at Old Trafford.

Perhaps this is why his name has come up as a possible solution to fill the void left by Alaba. The Austrian tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Sunday during Real Madrid's La Liga victory over Villarreal. He has already undergone surgery, and it is almost certain that he won't be able to be back to full health before the end of the season.

That leaves manager Carlo Ancelotti with just two central defenders, Nacho Fernandez and Antonio Rudiger. He already admitted that the club is facing an "emergency situation" and that he is looking at Aurelien Tchouameni to cover the vacant position. However, that may not be a sustainable solution.

The club reportedly had a shortlist of defenders that they are interested in signing, but that plan was not supposed to go into motion until at least next season. They are believed to be on the lookout for young long-term replacements to the likes of Nacho and Rudiger who are already in their 30s. However, considering the current situation, Los Blancos may need to prioritise signing a defender, and a short-term loan deal for Varane may be one of the more feasible solutions.

Cadena Cope is convinced that Manchester United may be open to the deal, but other publications are insisting that Ten Hag is not open to letting go of Varane in January.

From the Real Madrid point of view, Varane's return could mean the addition of a strong player who needs very little time to adjust to the Santiago Bernabeu. Most of the players and the manager know him well, meaning he could blend seamlessly into the system quickly if all parties agree.

It is unclear if Varane is even open to this idea, and Ancelotti has not spoken about it either.

Contrary to the report about Varane's possible return, Marca says that the club is more interested in dipping into the reserves instead of signing a new player over the winter transfer window.

Real Madrid Castilla has already provided the first team with the likes of Nico Paz, who has made a sensational debut this season. Paz has already made four substitute appearances for Ancelotti, and he scored his first Champions League goal in Real Madrid's clash against Napoli just last month.

Álvaro Carrillo has already spent some time on the bench with the senior squad, and Ancelotti has mentioned Marvel as another player due for promotion. Eighteen-year-old defender Jacobo Ramón may also find himself being thrust in the spotlight should Ancelotti require additional reinforcements in the coming months.