Manchester United look set to add a young British core to their squad this summer. BBC Sport report that the club have made a £70 million bid for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire. This would add to the signings of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been given a license to rebuild as he sees fit and it is perhaps surprising to see a preference for homegrown talent. Although the offer is short of the Foxes’ asking price, this saga is ramping up and it looks like the Red Devils are confident of getting their man.
The defence was a weakness for Manchester United last season. They conceded 54 times, which was more than any team in the top-six. In fact, only West Ham conceded more in the top ten. Maguire’s Leicester City conceded six fewer and there is no doubting that the England international played a key part in that record. The price tag is inflated due to his nationality and status in the England team, but there is no doubting that he would add quality to the squad at Old Trafford.
There is a premium on Maguire due to his influence at last summer’s World Cup, as he stood out as one of the best players in the England team. However, his progress has been evident in the Premier League and he is ready to make a step-up to a higher level.
Last season, Maguire displayed his well-rounded attributes in the centre of Leicester’s defence. He made 2.2 ball recoveries, 4.9 clearances and 3.8 aerial duels per Premier League match. The 26-year-old offers a physically dominant presence and that is something that Manchester United have lacked in recent seasons. Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly are both talented, but neither dominate matches.
In addition to his obvious defensive qualities, Maguire is excellent on the ball. There are few better centre-backs at bringing the ball out from the back to launch an attack. He often goes on lung-bursting runs into midfield areas, while his pass success rate of 85.6% shows that he is effective at distributing the ball when he gets into an attacking area. Leicester City’s counter-attacking style has brought out the best in this aspect of his game.
Solskjaer will want his defenders to be reliable first and foremost, but he will ask them to launch attacks. Maguire is an effective player in both halves of the pitch, which is why he is attracting a lot of interest from the top six. His goal contribution of three last season shows another element to his game. Ultimately, it is the centre-back’s leadership that makes him most attractive to Manchester United. They lacked it during the last campaign and it is an area that needed to be addressed.
The price tag makes this deal a huge risk and an ultimately underwhelming signing for Manchester United. There are better defenders on the market for the same fee. However, if you ignore the money, this is a deal that does improve the team if it does go through. It also continues the British theme to the summer transfer business, which is clearly what the manager wants.