World champion France were eliminated on the tournament’s most dramatic day so far, with Yann Sommer saving Kylian Mbappe’s shot on goal in the penalty shootout to send Switzerland to the quarter-finals.
The Swiss came back 3-1 late to force overtime and penalties, securing a last-eight clash with Spain who had previously beaten Croatia in an eight-goal thriller.
But as the loss meant heartbreak for Mbappe, Paul Pogba and Co, it gave United a double boost as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks to strengthen his squad for a Premier League title challenge next season.
Raphael Varane is the Red Devils’ main defensive target as Solskjaer seeks a long-term partner as a center-half for Harry Maguire.
The French star is set to enter the final year of his contract with Real Madrid, and is expected to leave in search of a new challenge after 10 years at the Bernabeu.
United are a big favorite to sign the 28-year-old, who has also sparked interest from Chelsea and Manchester City.
But a deal was only likely to be reached after the French Euro 2020 campaign had ended – and with Didier Deschamps’ side set to go deeper into the tournament, it was reasonable to expect a delay. considerable.
Varane will need a vacation after a grueling season for club and country, and if France had reached the final on July 11, it could have been August before the center-back can realistically meet his new team-mates.
But United are now hoping to be able to close the deal sooner – meaning Varane could become a United player in time to undergo a big chunk of pre-season training next month.
And that could be crucial for developing relationships with his defensive colleagues and working on squad form and playing patterns ahead of United’s season opener at home against Leeds on August 14.
France’s exit from the euro also means that the ongoing saga of Paul Pogba’s future will not need to drag on over the summer.
Pogba is one year away from the end of his contract at Old Trafford, and there has been a lot of speculation that United may be looking to take advantage of the midfielder this summer amid interest from Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.
The 28-year-old is in top form for his country – far more than at club level – and has scored one of the tournament’s best goals to give his side a two-goal lead against Switzerland.
His display against the Swiss was also hampered by a lack of defensive discipline, but it was widely recognized that Pogba looked like a different player for France than for United.
While his attacking performances may have put him in the showcase, Solskjaer will want to tie Pogba to a new deal and will then have to find a way to make the most of the club’s signing of the £ 89million record.
And Pogba’s first vacation will help on all fronts.
If the midfielder decides his best decision is to leave – as his agent Mino Raiola suggested last season – then a change can be settled sooner than expected, and Solskjaer can continue to build his squad for the future. .
But in the meantime, contract talks can resume, and with Pogba now set to return for the preseason in a few weeks, Solskjaer will have a first chance to assess how the midfielder can reproduce his form in France.
By then, the midfielder could have some new teammates, with United set to weigh a blow for French Under-21 star Eduardo Camavinga once they complete the expected capture of Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.
Gary Lineker pointed out that Pogba is performing better for France as he plays with players like Mbappe and Karim Benzema.
And the challenge Solskjaer will face this summer will be how to get similar results from Pogba when he connects with his fellow United.