Manchester United are currently one of the busiest clubs in the world. The Red Devils, fresh from the lacerations of an abysmal 2018/19 season, are now trying to bolster their ailing squad as they prepare to appease their fans for the upcoming campaign. The aftermath of having a quiet transfer window is downright terrible – and Ed Woodward has tasted it too well. Hence, the English giants are now actively seeking quality players to improve their lineup, albeit they have signed only two young yet immensely promising players in Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The heart of the defence remains a crucial area where United need a reinforcement. As it happens, the club have reportedly agreed on an £80m fee for English center back Harry Maguire. The Red Devils initially refused to sign the Leicester City defender for £70m even though Jose Mourinho wanted him badly. Now, having seen how grave the problem at the back is, Ed Woodward has finally given in.
£80 million. That’s a gigantic sum for a 26-year-old with just a year of Champions League experience and no winners’ medal dangling down his neck. Leicester City’s asking price will make everyone laugh, given the mad amount of money clubs spend on players these days. The social media is seen buzzing about how Maguire is a decent defender but definitely not more worthy than Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, who swapped clubs for £75m 18 months ago, becoming the costliest defender of all time.
Maguire could easily be labelled as the second-best defender in the Premier League given the bag of skills he possesses. A tall and robust center-back with exceptional aerial ability, a ball-playing defender who takes one shot on goal per game and most of all, a fair dribbler who has the courage to get past the opposition midfield with the ball and then track back to defend in case the Foxes lose the ball. No wonder United will definitely get a valuable upgrade if they sign him, but is he really worth what Leicester are holding him out for? Should Solskjaer give in to their demands and fork out that huge amount from their coffers to get their man?
The problem is, Leicester City’s asking price somewhat eclipses the ability Maguire possesses. Add the fact that comparisons with Virgil van Dijk make people, United fans included, question the Red Devils’ intelligence in the transfer market. Again, a young player like Matthijs de Ligt, labelled as a once-in-a-generation kind of a player costs Juventus less than what it would take United to rope in the Englishman. The Dutch prodigy, about 8 years younger than Maguire, has a better experience playing at Europe’s biggest stage. While these points are pretty logically correct, footballing connoisseurs really need to flip the coin and have a look at the other side.
Comparisons with Virgil van Dijk are partly sustainable, but one needs to know that Liverpool too were questioned about their transfer market decision-making when they emptied £75m from their coffers for a 27-year-old defender who was pretty much at the same stage where Harry Maguire currently stands – No Champions League experience, no winners’ medals to showcase and just decent numbers to back up his abilities.
Van Dijk has effectively performed at Anfield, making sure the Merseysiders’ trust in him doesn’t go down in vain. 18 months following his transfer to Liverpool, the £75m now looks like a bargain only due to his impressive performances at the club. Liverpool would immediately double his price if they ever get the mad idea of selling him.
Manchester City forked out £50m to sign Kyle Walker from Tottenham, and the Englishman, too, has repaid their trust handsomely. He is probably the fastest full-back in the Premier League and has made tremendous progress under Pep Guardiola.
Likewise, Harry Maguire might not be worthy of £80m for now in the eyes of all people, but only time will tell if he can reverse the thinking and make it look like a bargain.