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Manchester United defender Raphael Varane admits team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview criticising the club and manager Erik ten Hag does affect the players.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, speaking to Piers Morgan on TalkTV, said he did not respect Ten Hag and claimed a number of individuals at United were trying to force him out.

United are taking legal advice – and awaiting broadcast of the full interview – before issuing a response and while a statement did say their “focus remains on…continuing the momentum, belief and togetherness being built” the shockwaves have been felt far and wide.

Varane, preparing for the World Cup with France, told French radio station Europe 1: “Obviously it affects us. We follow what is happening and what is being said.

“We try to calm the situation in our own way, we try not to get too involved in it.

“When it’s a star like Cristiano Ronaldo, even more so we try to take it with distance, that is to say that we do not try to change the situation alone, we are part of a collective.

“What I want is the best for my team so whatever the decision (by the club), as a player, we will accept it and give the best of ourselves.”

Prior to their arrival in Qatar, the France squad have announced they have pledged to financially support non-governmental organisations and charities which work towards the protection of human rights.

Manchester United’s Raphael Varane
Manchester United defender Raphael Varane admits Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview has impacted on the players (Dave Thompson/PA)

The build-up to the tournament has been dogged by controversy surrounding the issue, from the treatment of migrant workers to the country’s stance over LGBT+ rights.

“We are players, we have this way of expressing ourselves, but it’s human that we expressed this through this letter,” added Varane, the France vice-captain.

“It’s also a lot of light (shone) on us and we also want to express humanly what we feel.”