Raphael Varane of Manchester United looks on in the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest at City Ground in Nottingham, England, December 30, 2023. /CFP

Raphael Varane of Manchester United looks on in the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest at City Ground in Nottingham, England, December 30, 2023. /CFP

Manchester United will not activate the one-year extension option in French center-back Raphael Varane’s contract, according to ESPN.

Varane, who is currently one of United’s highest-paid players, can negotiate deals with clubs outside the Premier League as of January 1 and will become a free agent in the summer.

United acquired Varane from Real Madrid in August 2021 for 40 million euros (about $44 million). He has made 79 appearances for the “Red Devils” since then and has been a key part of their defensive line. His salary is over 300,000 pounds (about $381249) per week, which puts him in the same income category as Casemiro, Jadon Sancho, and Marcus Rashford, who signed an extension in July 2023.

Though United haven’t ruled out the possibility of negotiating and signing a new deal with Varane in the summer, the action of his former teammate, goalkeeper David De Gea, might be repeated. De Gea had one of the best salaries in the club last season. They didn’t trigger the extension option in his deal either before he left as a free agent last summer.

Erik ten Hag, manager of Manchester United, looks on during the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest at City Ground in Nottingham, England, December 30, 2023. /CFP

Erik ten Hag, manager of Manchester United, looks on during the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest at City Ground in Nottingham, England, December 30, 2023. /CFP

Erik ten Hag, manager of Manchester United, looks on during the Premier League game against Nottingham Forest at City Ground in Nottingham, England, December 30, 2023. /CFP

Victor Lindelof and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have the same extension option in their contracts with United. However, according to ESPN, United have decided to extend their deals for one more year until 2025. Anthony Martial faces the same situation as Varane; United won’t extend his deal.

Varane aside, neither Casemiro, Sancho or Martial is at United’s popular kids’ table. Casemiro and Martial lost their club positions because of poor performance, while Sancho was removed from the first team after his fallout with Ten Hag. It wouldn’t be surprising if United want to get rid of them to ease the clubs’s financial pressure.

Having lost to Nottingham Forest 2-1 on December 30, 2023, United are currently seventh in the Premier League after 20 games. Their Chief Operating Officer Collette Roche told fans last month that the club is unlikely to make any big move during the winter transfer window because Financial Fair Play rules have “real teeth.”

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