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Leboeuf backing Varane to shine

March 27, 2013
By Ian Holyman, France Correspondent

Frank Leboeuf believes Raphael Varane could surpass the achievements of Fernando Hierro at Real Madrid and carve out his own place in the Spanish club's pantheon of legends.

Raphael Varane
PA PhotosRaphael Varane is ruled out of the cup final

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Varane, 19, made his senior international debut for France in the 2014 World Cup qualifier against Georgia last Friday and kept his place in the starting line-up for Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Spain.

The centre-back proved himself to be as unruffled by the occasion against La Roja at the Stade de France as he did facing Barcelona in La Liga and Manchester United in the Champions League in recent weeks.

And Leboeuf, a former France international centre-back himself, told RMC that Madrid have found themselves a worthy successor to Hierro.

"He's someone who'll last [at the top level] because of his attitude. When he arrived at Madrid, he's one of the rare boys who didn't talk about money before talking about football. He's already got an adult's head on his shoulders. He wants to work and improve. He's got a sang froid [a coolness and composure] which I really like.

"At the top level, you have to be very calm, and he is. Many compare him to Hierro in terms of his technique. I agree, but physically, he's better because he's a lot quicker. He's the complete player, and if he keeps his head on his shoulders, he has a very bright future. As he's a defender, he won't be on the front page all the time. That's a good thing about him."

Varane's prodigious potential first came to light at Lens in his native northern France before he moved to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2011.

Having established himself in the Madrid back four this season, the youngster now appears to have done the same with Les Bleus as it was Paris Saint-Germain's Mamadou Sakho who was sacrificed to make way for Laurent Koscielny's return against La Roja.

Koscielny had missed the Georgia game due to the threat of him being suspended to face the European and world champions, and Varane believes the pair showed the beginnings of a promising partnership at the Stade de France.

"I'm starting to find my place, and I felt good alongside Koscielny," he said. "He's excellent in terms of his positioning, and I think we were complementary. We linked up well. Personally, I'm happy to have had the faith of the coach to be in the starting line-up for a second successive game, and I'm going to try and deserve it in the future. It's up to me to work at my club."