Is Harry Maguire the solution to Manchester United's defensive problems?
Sky Sports are reporting that Manchester United are readying an £80 million bid for Leicester City centre-back, Harry Maguire.
This comes a fortnight after United’s interest in England’s World Cup hero was apparently shelved, due to the astronomical fee Leicester were demanding for one of their most prized assets.
However, with only days remaining in the transfer window, United’s board appears to have changed their stance and are now prepared to pay a world record fee for a defender.
If United are able to get this deal over the line before the transfer window slams shut for Premier League clubs, would Maguire be the solution to United’s problems?
United boss, Jose Mourinho unquestionably sees central defence as an area for squad improvement despite there being a large number of players currently on United’s payroll who play in that position.
It’s interesting to note that it is primarily Sir Alex Ferguson signed players that Mourinho operated across his back four last season rather than Louis Van Gaal recruits such as Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind.
It is an area that Mourinho has attempted to improve over both of his summer transfer windows in charge of the club with Eric Bailly signed in 2016 and Victor Lindelof in 2017. However, neither were regular starters last year.
Would Harry Maguire be the man to earn Mourinho’s trust and start every single week?
At an imposing six feet four inches, Maguire has a height advantage over several of United’s incumbents such as Rojo, Lindelof and Phil Jones.
With two goals for Leicester in 2017-18 and one more for England during this summer’s FIFA World Cup, Maguire has also demonstrated how he is a very useful asset in the opposition box. Even if he is to be man-marked going forward, he would conceivably open space for another United player to earn an opportunity on goal.
No United defender was as effective in the opposition penalty area in 2017-18.
It is easy to question Mourinho’s obsession with landing another centre-half when United’s defensive record was the second best in the Premier League in 2017-18. However, the figure of 28 goals conceded masks the fact that the club gave away 40 clear-cut scoring chances last season, one of the highest amounts in the League.
The reason for United’s impressive defensive record was not their defenders but goalkeeper, David de Gea, who prevented 15 clear-cut goal scoring chances.
Mourinho’s lack of faith in his defensive players also explains why he is so reluctant to allow his attacking talent off the leash going forward, so fearful he is of his side being caught short at the back, which is why he has asked so much of his wide players; wanting them to consistently track back when they lose the ball to cover for the defence.
A central defender who he can rely on could see Mourinho completely change the way his side play in the upcoming season.
This is why the 25-year-old Maguire would be the most significant signing of the summer for Mourinho. He could well prove to be the missing piece of his United jigsaw and the propeller for a season of success.