Raphael Varane Real Madrid
Real Madrid centre-back Raphael Varane says he nearly joined Manchester United in 2011Reuters

French defender Raphael Varane claims that he was very close to signing for Manchester United before eventually making a move to Real Madrid.

The 21-year-old centre-back, who joined the Los Blancos from Ligue 1 side Lens for a transfer fee of around €10 million in the summer of 2011, has been tipped to be a star in the future, having already managed to earn a place in Real Madrid's star-studded first team.

However, the Frenchman has now revealed that he had seriously considered making a move to Manchester United, before finally deciding to join Real Madrid.

"We were close to an agreement with Manchester United," Varane told Telefoot. "My mom speaks English and this facilitated the translation."

"There was also an interesting project [on offer] but I made a choice for my career. I think I can go higher and mark my generation. I would be happy to tell myself I did the maximum and went as far as I could during my career."

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was the manager of Real Madrid in 2011, also confirmed that he got some stiff competition from Manchester United for the signature of Varane.

"I was on vacation," the Chelsea told Goal. "La Liga was over. I was in Madrid and Zinedine Zidane shows up with a DVD. I looked at the player and I was very happy with what I saw."

"Manchester United wanted him but Real Madrid was very strong in this deal."

Meanwhile Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal feels that his side are finally in the title race along with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City after recording their sixth consecutive win against Liverpool on Sunday.

Strikes from Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie coupled with some excellent goalkeeping from David De Gea saw the United overpower a determined Liverpool side, and close the gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Chelsea to eight points.

And van Gaal is confident that they will be able to challenge for the title if they keep on improving and winning games.

"We have won six matches in a row which is fantastic but we have to improve our playing style and I am saying that nearly every week," van Gaal told the Guardian.

Despite admitting that the Red Devils could have played better, van Gaal insists that he is happy with his side's overall performances.

"We could have dominated the game 90 minutes today but we didn't do that. We gave unnecessary balls away in the second half. We have to improve but we are very pleased because we know what it is to win against Liverpool. Everybody is happy. My cook is happy, my wife is happy and I am happy."