Gary Neville rates Tottenham Hotspur-linked defender above Liverpool ace Virgil van Dijk
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Gary Neville rates Tottenham Hotspur-linked defender above Liverpool ace Virgil van Dijk

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has rated Raphael Varane – a reported target for Tottenham Hotspur – above Liverpool ace Virgil van Dijk in his football draft top ten.

The Real Madrid defender has previously worked with Tottenham head coach Jose Mourinho when the two were both at the Bernabeu and is highly rated by the Portuguese.

According to a January report from El Desmarque, the Portuguese wants to work with the Frenchman again, with Spurs said to have considered an €80million (£68million) bid.

(Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

However, the Spanish outlet added that the Real hierarchy would only be willing to sell the 26-year-old were he to become the most expensive centre-back in history.

This would have meant a bid in excess of the reported £80million that Manchester United paid Leicester City for Harry Maguire.

In the end, nothing came of the speculation, with the France international still at Real.

With his contract expiring in 2022, however, Tottenham could perhaps decide to revisit their interest in the summer.

Neville listed Kylian Mbappe as his first pick, while Varane was second and Van Dijk third.

“I think we’ve got an amazing group of young players in England, but we have to think about the other players that exist,” Neville told Sky Sports. “We are not the only country in the world.

“Jadon Sancho is a talent, but we can’t start putting him in the category of these world stars who are winning European Cups and World Cups regularly.

“That’s why I put Raphael Varane ahead of Virgil van Dijk. He’s won so many European Cups, a World Cup, he’s an amazing player.”

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Varane is a defender of the highest calibre, with a wonderful medal collection which includes the 2018 World Cup, four Champions Leagues and two La Liga titles.

Neville isn’t the first to consider Varane the best defender in the world – Mourinho previously said the same, as quoted by

How realistic is Varane as a target for Tottenham, though? On one hand, they are in need of reinforcements at the back, his contract’s up in two years, and perhaps he could relish a new challenge playing again for Mourinho.

However, with Spurs facing a huge battle merely to get into Europe this season, it would certainly be a shock move were he to switch to N17 – even though it wasn’t that long ago that it would have been a shock for Mourinho to be there.

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