‘I’m suffocating’ – Manchester United defender Raphael Varane explains France retirement and reveals mental toll of ‘overloaded’ schedule

    Manchester United defender Raphael Varane has opened up on his decision to retire from France duty.

    World Cup winner Varane stunned the football world on Friday by announcing his decision to stop playing international football.

    Varane has been a key player for France in recent years


    Varane has been a key player for France in recent years

    The Frenchman is 29, two months shy of his 30th birthday, and Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps was expected to hand him the captaincy.

    However, after 93 caps for his country, Varane has explained how football’s ‘overloaded’ schedule left a physical and mental toll.

    In an interview with Canal+, which will be released in full on Sunday, Varane said: “I gave everything, physically and mentally.

    “But the very highest level is like a washing machine, you play all the time and you never stop.

    “We have overloaded schedules and play non-stop. Right now, I feel like I’m suffocating and that [Varane] the player is gobbling up [Varane] the man.”

    Meanwhile, manager Deschamps admitted his disappointment but understood Varane’s decision.

    Varane helped France win the World Cup in 2018


    Varane helped France win the World Cup in 2018

    Deschamps said: “I had a similar situation. I understand his arguments and respect his decision, even if it may seem regrettable in view of everything that he did in the World Cup, during which, from start to finish, he acted like the leader we know.

    “Of course, I can not turn this page without a certain emotion, given our close ties since August 2012.

    “Like Hugo Lloris, he would have been, without injury, in all of my squads.”


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