Raphael Varane says the Manchester United players do not think they’d be better off without Cristiano Ronaldo, amid rumours of his possible move from Old Trafford.
The Portuguese legend has been absent from United’s pre-season training tour of Thailand and Australia as he continues to look for an exit from the club this summer.
However, Varane has insisted that the five-time Balon d’Or winner is a vital part of the squad as he looks to fend off any interest from Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and PSG.
The 29-year-old said: ‘Of course we want to improve. Cristiano is a great competitor, he’s a legend. Obviously it’s very good to play with him and he always helps the team.
‘He’s a great player and we all want the best players in the team. We will try to improve next season.’
‘We appreciate him as a player and as a person,’ he said. ‘I think this debate was outside of the dressing room. We know his quality.
‘And we know he’s very famous, so we know a lot of people will speak about the performance of the team and his performance.’
Diego Simeone’s Atletico are the latest big club to be linked with the 37-year-old, however they may struggle to pay his wages.
Despite the 30% cut Ronaldo is willing to take, any side will still likely have to pay around £300,000-a-week for his services.
Ronaldo notched an impressive 24 goals in 38 games in all competitions last season for United – picking up the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award along the way.
The Frenchman also spoke on fellow central defender Harry Maguire, who was booed by fans in Melbourne during a friendly against Crystal Palace.
Varane said: ‘I think he’s a very important player for us. He’s the captain and he has a lot of great qualities. Obviously we support him and he’s part of the team and very important for us.’
The Englishman played 66 minutes during their 3-1 win over Premier League rivals as well as a 45 minute cameo in a 4-1 demolition of Melbourne Victory as ten Hag continues his impressive pre-season run.