The Frenchman says he’s “seen players that can’t cope” with the demands of playing at Santiago Bernabeu, where winning is embedded in the club culture
Raphael Varane has offered an insight into the pressure placed on the shoulders of Real Madrid players, insisting “the level of standards is greater than at any other club”.
Madrid are one of the most successful clubs of all time and the highest-earning football organisation in the world.
The Blancos have sat atop UEFA’s team rankings for the last six years, having won four Champions League trophies during that period, taking their tally to 13 overall – six more than any other side in the competition’s history.
The Santiago Bernabeu has seen a whole host of world-class players walk through its doors over the last 73 years, but not everyone who ends up joining Madrid manages to live up to expectations.
Varane is among those to have etched his name into the club’s hall of fame, with 16 major trophies to his name since joining the club in 2011.
The World Cup-winning defender does, however, acknowledge that the level of pressure that comes with playing for Madrid is unique, with dropping points considered “catastrophic” no matter what the circumstances may be.
Varane is well aware that not everyone is cut out for the intense scrutiny that comes with playing at the Bernabeu, with supporters “demanding” sustained success year after year.
“It’s a different kind of pressure,” the France international told AS. “Every day, there are numerous newspapers, television and radio programmes, etc. And what happens in Madrid often has repercussions all over the world. They’re global.
“The pressure inside the club is also huge. The fans are extremely demanding: winning is good, but it’s never enough, you always have to improve your play.
“A draw is catastrophic. It’s a level of standards greater than at any other club. We feel this and live with it. Not all footballers can live with this. I have seen players that can’t cope.”
Madrid finished the 2018-19 campaign without a trophy, with the general consensus among fans and experts being that they failed to fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
The Portuguese superstar called time on a hugely successful nine-year spell at the Bernabeu in 2018 to join Juventus, leaving Karim Benzema as the only natural centre-forward in the Blancos squad.
Zinedine Zidane added to his ranks last summer and Madrid have improved as a result, but they have yet to find a player capable of influencing proceedings in the same way.
Varane went on to express his admiration towards Ronaldo, describing his talent as “extraordinary” before opening up on how much he learned from a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
“On a human and footballing level I don’t even have words anymore,” Varane added. “He accomplished something extraordinary: he made his incredible achievements seem banal.
“And to do that… There are no words to explain it, it’s huge, it’s extraordinary. He taught me a lot and also surprised me. How many times have I said to myself: ‘Wow, this is incredible.'”