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Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane could leave the club for free in the summer

The contract of Manchester United centre-back Raphael Varane is set to expire a year earlier than previously publicised, according to the Athletic.

The deal of the Frenchman at the Old Trafford club expires at the end of this season, with the option of an additional year included in it.

As a result, Varane could become a free agent in the summer and is eligible to talk to non-British clubs and sign a pre-contract agreement in January.

However, any move would be subject to the additional 12 months elapsing without being activated.

The club could opt to allow him to leave for free at the end of the 2023-24 campaign, which would see them save around £16 million as he currently earns £340,000 per week.

The 30-year-old joined Man United from Real Madrid in the summer of 2021, with the Red Devils stating at the time that he had signed paperwork keeping him at the club until June 2025.

He has been linked with an exit ahead of the January transfers window after falling out of favour under manager Erik ten Hag, and Man United could now be forced to sell him and recoup part of the initial £34m they spent to recruit his services.

Varane has lost his place in the starting XI to Harry Maguire, and his appearance in the line-up against Bayern Munich last night was his first start since November 8.

He has played just two games since that 4-3 loss to Copenhagen, missing the last five games heading into the Champions League game on Tuesday night.

Varane could start against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday with both Maguire and Luke Shaw likely to miss the trip due to injuries, but whether he will be able to do enough to retain a place in the starting berth afterwards remains to be seen.