Gary Neville says Man Utd star will ‘never’ be as good as Liverpool legend | Football

Gary Neville thinks Raphael Varane is a ‘great’ player but is missing something from his game (Photo: YouTube)

Gary Neville has explained why Raphael Varane has not had the same impact on Manchester United as Virgil van Dijk has on Liverpool.

United looked to have pulled off a major coup when they signed Varane from Real Madrid in 2021 for £42million.

The centre-back had spent a decade with Los Blancos, winning four Champions Leagues and three La Lia titles, as well as the 2018 World Cup with France.

But at Old Trafford he’s been hit and miss, while he’s also missed 39 games to date with injury, with the 30-year-old recently opening up about concussion issues he’s been having.

Speaking on The Overlap, Neville was asked which current Liverpool star he would ‘steal’ for United and the former club captain said: ‘I would take Van Dijk,’ explaining that the team needs a commanding presence at the back.

Asked why he felt Varane hadn’t provided that as many thought he would, Neville added: ‘I don’t think he’ll ever be that player.

‘For me, when I watch Varane, he actually defends his part of the pitch very well and the box very well – he heads out a lot of balls and is quite dominant in the air.

Manchester United defender Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane has struggled for fitness and consistency at Man Utd (Photo: Getty)

‘I just think he’s that kind of centre-half who will always do – and to be fair he might have been at Real Madrid when he was alongside [Sergio] Ramos – his own job really well but I don’t think he’ll impact the players around him.

‘And that’s not a criticism by the way, because to be fair there are many great centre-halves who do their own job very well but don’t actually manage a back four.

‘A great centre-half who can manage a back four is your Van Dijks, your [John] Terrys – great players of all time – but he’s just one of those great centre-halves that does his own job really well, I think.’

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk

This is Virgil van Dijk’s first season as Liverpool captain (Photo: Getty)

As much as United fans would hate to admit it, there are a number of Liverpool players who would easily improve the Red Devils, not least Mohammed Salah, but Neville believes the current Reds captain would be the best ‘steal’.

‘I just think that Van Dijk would bring dominance to the team and a presence in the team that we haven’t got. We haven’t got a forward as good as Mo Salah, but we’ve got talented forwards,’ he added.

‘I always think if you’ve got a spine of strength and presence… We always say, don’t we, “Oh, there’s no Roy Keanes anymore, there’s no Vincent Kompanys anymore, there’s no John Terrys’ – there actually is one now at Liverpool, when you think about how he’s performed this season, Van Dijk. He’s a massive presence on that pitch.

‘He’s not the same character as some of those that I’ve mentioned, but he actually is quite dominant on the pitch, he speaks a lot more than people might think and he actually is someone you can see that’s got an aura about him.

‘And I think that if you want to change Manchester United’s complete and utter culture, then they need that dominant person who holds them together. And I think Van Dijk would control [Kobbie] Mainoo, even someone like Antony or [Marcus] Rashford. I think he would build them, not break them.’

United are set to play arch-rivals Liverpool on Sunday, but before then they face mid-week clashes against Chelsea and Sheffield United.

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