If you had asked any former player or commentator what Manchester United needed to do to compete for the Premier League title before the summer transfer window, they would have told you that they needed to buy a world-class center-back.
That goal appears to have been fulfilled now that Raphael Varane is ready to enter through the Old Trafford entry door. Despite United's attacking prowess, they have repeatedly shot themselves in the foot with shoddy defending under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's watch, particularly in set-piece situations.
The 3-3 draw against Everton in February, in which they twice squandered the lead in a game that marked the start of the end of their Premier League title challenge the previous season, summed up where they were at.
They managed to throw away victory by allowing three goals from three shots on target, including a last-minute equalizer, despite their great offensive flair in the first half. True champions do not fall behind in such a fashion.
As a result, while United has struggled to mount a credible title push since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure in 2013, their biggest opponents have made revolutionary defensive moves that have almost immediately led to silverware.
Last season, Virgil van Dijk helped Liverpool end a 30-year drought for a league title, while Ruben Dias dramatically impacted Manchester City.
On the other hand, those two cost £75 million ($100 million) and £62 million ($79 million), respectively, and arrived with little success at the top level behind them, despite the heights they have since reached.
Varane should provide that for Solskjaer, who has been screaming out for a player who can instill a winning attitude in his side. Suppose another newcomer Jadon Sancho, can provide exciting attacking play that can win games week in and week out. In that case, Varane's objective is to ensure the Red Devils can cross the finish line when they have previously fallen short.
That isn't to say Varane won't help United develop from when he takes the field in a redshirt. He indeed does as well. Victor Lindelof is not a horrible defender; instead, he and Harry Maguire do not complement one other as a partnership. Playing alongside Eric Bailly, the Sweden center-back has appeared more assured and secure than Maguire at times.
Last season, United conceded 44 goals, outscoring champions City, a Van Dijk-less Liverpool, an inconsistent Chelsea, and a faltering Arsenal.
Varane's probable arrival, which is subject to a medical and may cost United as much as £41 million ($56 million) with add-ons, is expected to alter United's backline and possibly Solskjaer's entire team 2021-22. If that vulnerability can be corrected, Solskjaer will have more freedom to play a more attacking 4-3-3, allowing someone like Pogba to move forward a little more.
Varane, then, is not just the defensive game-changer United has been looking for, but he may also play a vital role in the team's attack. You can't ask for much more, for £34 million.