MADRID, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Real Madrid's French international defender Rafael Varene will be returning to Paris with the rest of his teammates on Wednesday when they open their Champions League campaign away to Paris Saint Germain.
In some ways it will be a decaffeinated affair with Nacho and Sergio Ramos suspended for Real Madrid, while Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe are out for the French side, but Varene is still expecting a tough match between the two favorites to qualify from a group which also contains Belgian side, Bruges and the Turkish outfit, Galatasaray.
"We are still improving. PSG are very hard working and they are a great unit. They may be without their two best players, but they are still competitive and we'll have to play very well to win in Paris;" said Varene in an interview with French newspaper Le Parisien.
Neymar was linked to moves to both Real Madrid and Barcelona over the summer, but Varene insisted he and his teammates tried to avoid listening to the rumors.
"There was a lot of noise about it in the press, but we didn't talk about it much because we are working hard in pre-season. Everyday something new came out and in the end you start to lose track of the rumors."
"I am always cautious about rumors and prefer to wait until negotiations are over," he commented.
The last days of the summer transfer window did see transfer business between Real Madrid and PSG, with Madrid's keeper Keylor Navas moving to Paris, while Alfonso Areola moved the other way.
"I'm very happy he (Areola) has come, I know what he can do and I hope he gets the chance to show them. He will have to take his chance and he can have a great season," said Varene about Areola, although he admitted he was sad to see Naves leave.
"He is a great player and the tougher the game, the better he deals with the pressure. He improves in key moments and even more so in the Champions League, where he was vital in us winning our last three titles," said the defender.