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Premier interest in Real's Varane

MANCHESTER United and Chelsea will compete for unsettled Real Madrid defender Rafael Varane (inset) in the transfer window.

The French international, who joined Real from Lens for €10m in 2010, has struggled to get game time with the Spanish giants this season, making only five starts in La Liga, and he has reportedly expressed a desire to quit the club and move to England.

Varane, 21, only signed a new six-year deal with Real last September but a move could be pushed through if he is determined to leave and if Real can make a profit on the player.

United have already strengthened their defence this season but with injury woes for boss Louis van Gaal in that area, the Old Trafford board may sanction further signings and the experienced Varane could fit the bill.

But Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is also an admirer of Varane and has the funds to complete the deal if the Frenchman is wanted by the Portuguese.

Meanwhile, Liverpool have been linked with a move for Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss international who is reportedly on his way out of Bayern Munich. Shaqiri is unhappy with his limited opportunities at Bayern and may seek a move to England.

And reports in Spain suggest that Lionel Messi could spark interest from Chelsea, as Barca are going through a difficult period with the departures from the coaching staff of Andoni Zubizaretta and Carles Puyol.