Manchester

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer signing has answered Manchester United’s demand in defence

The Frenchman, who joined United just over a year ago from Real Madrid, has started just four times in all competitions so far this season and they are the only matches that they have so far won. He was left on the bench for Thursday night's 1-0 defeat to Real Sociedad.

Admittedly, it's hard to blame the defeat to Sociedad solely on the absence of Varane, with a dubious penalty decision providing the platform for the Basque outfit to scoop all three points in their Europa League Group E opener, but United did not look as comfortable at the back without him. After starting their opening two Premier League matches on the bench, he was handed his first start of the season against Liverpool a moment that marked the beginning of a remarkable change in fortunes.

The French international has since kept his place in the league, forming a solid-looking partnership with summer signing Lisandro Martinez. United have only conceded two goals with that partnership, opposed to the seven goals they have shipped without the former Madrid man on the pitch.

Already, Varane's importance to United is becoming clear as it was last season. Last season United conceded 32 goals in 16 Premier League games without him as he struggled with injuries compared to the 25 they conceded in 22 games with him. It is no surprise that a similar pattern is already emerging.

United desperately missed Varane on numerous occasions last season and some supporters and pundits questioned whether he could become a mainstay in Erik ten Hag's thinking. However, former United defender Mikael Silvestre backed his fellow countryman to show everyone why the club invested up to 42million in his signature last summer, pointing to one particular trait that he felt would improve United's defensive problems.

Asked if he was worried about Varane's future at Old Trafford back in April, Silvestre, speaking to Genting Casino, said: “No, not at all. He has what it takes to be the leader of the United defence.

“Individually, he is more than capable of stepping up and being one of the top defenders next season under the new manager.”

He has most certainly stepped up. After starting on the bench for United's opening two games, Varane is currently undroppable and arguably the first name on Ten Hag's teamsheet.