I'm not a fan with how the Ballon D'OR is done, so I give the kind of criteria I would use to determine who the best players of the year is. And it's tricky, as it's a combination.
The big argument against El Fenomeno has always been how he never won a Champions League. As true as that may be, people need to realise the unique situation he was in that prevented him from even having a chance of achieving that.
After that painful loss to Chelsea, were they were clear favourites; people have to ask the question whether Pep can get out of his own way and ever deliver the CL for Man City.
At a point Varane was considered one of the best defenders in the world. Right in the middle of Real Madrid’s incredible dominance of Europe, it seemed as if Varane would be the next great defender.
In fact, 2018, was his year. He helped Real Madrid to their third successive CL, playing a pivotal role alongside Ramos as they saw off Bayern Munich, PSG and Liverpool. Then later that year, he was crucial alongside Umtiti in Deshamp’s pragmatic side that got the dub in Russia.
You look at that game against Belgium, Varane had his finest hour, being flawless in the air and expertly swatting all oncoming attacks from the Belgian attack.
So what’s the issue? A quality defender, with incredible speed as well as the big game performances and accolades to go alongside them.
The talent is there, but there are games where he can look horrible. Like, under Lopetegui, some of the mistakes he would make were awful. And he pretty much single-handedly handed Man City the win in the second leg of their 2020 CL tie.
There’s that lack of concentration in his game, where his brain just shuts down. And its these lapses he has which stops him from being one of the best defenders of his generation.
However, I think if the system helps him, and a manager leans more to the defensive side, then you can bank on him to do his job perfectly. But if you want the team to play more open-ended, that’s where he can tend to drift into obscurity.
All in all, at his best, he is for sure one of the best defenders out there and despite his mistakes, the experience he brings with being a World Cup winner and multiple Champions League winner is always a great asset to have.