Man Utd want “one of the hottest transfer targets” around to replace Varane

Manchester United will only play three fixtures in January, which gives Erik ten Hag a chance to increase his work with his side at Carrington.

The Red Devils next game is away to Newport in the FA Cup, 14 days after their 2-2 draw against Spurs.

However, between now and then, United could have at least one new face in the building as they look to reinforce their squad.

Man Utd’s search for a centre-back

According to Sky Sports reporter Florian Plettenberg on X, Man Utd have recently been monitoring Leny Yoro of Lille, who is “one of the hottest transfer targets” around according to the journalist.


Therefore, United will face competition from numerous big clubs, with Bayern Munich being the main competitor.

The defender is contracted to the French club until 2025, yet a move to United this winter is extremely unlikely.

How Yoro compares to Raphael Varane

The common transfer talk regarding United has been mainly strikers or centre-backs, however, the profile of the latter has usually been a right-sided player.

This suggests that the individual to make way for a potential signing would be Raphael Varane, who operates as the right centre-back and has had an injury-hit time in Manchester.

Indeed, the World Cup winner has unfortunately suffered two setbacks already this campaign, meaning that the boss has been unable to field a consistent centre-back pairing with Lisandro Martinez also on the treatment table until that draw with Tottenham.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Raphael Varane

Yoro, therefore, is the player that could replace Varane in the starting XI, as the 18-year-old has made that right centre-back role his own in Ligue 1 this season.

The Lille youth star has played 17 matches this term in the league, helping his team keep nine clean sheets with him in the starting XI, which happens to be the second-best defence in the French top-flight. Nonetheless, the table below shows Yoro’s stats from the 2023/24 Ligue 1 campaign, and how he compares to his positional peers.

Yoro’s 2023/24 Ligue 1 Stats

Stats (per 90)


Ranking in Ligue 1

Passes completed


Top 13%



Top 18%

Pass completion %


Top 9%



Top 15%



Top 9%

Stats via FBref

As you can see, Yoro is a player that would be an excellent partner for Martinez, while also elevating United’s ability to play out from the back via Andre Onana.

Despite being 18 years old, he displays bravery on the ball, as highlighted by the high volume of completed passes, touches, and carries. However, the defender also retains possession extremely well, and it is rare for him to give the ball away cheaply, as shown by the fact he ranks in the top 9% for pass completion % in the league. That differs greatly from Varane who ranks in the top 33% in the Premier League according to FBref.

The Lille prospect is also a threat in the opposition box, which would improve United’s output from set pieces. Yoro has netted twice already this season, the same number of goals as Rasmus Hojlund in the Premier League, and he ranks in the top 9% for goals among central defenders in Ligue 1.


Overall, the signing of Yoro would put question marks over Varane’s future at United. Ten Hag is desperate to create a formidable centre-half partnership that he can rely on, and Varane ultimately cannot provide the assurance of availability.

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