Why Manchester United should target Harry Maguire instead of Bonucci or Alderweireld
Jose Mourinho is planning to strengthen his squad in this summer window to mount a serious Premier League challenge in the upcoming season. He has already signed a midfielder and a full-back in Fred and Diogo Dalot respectively.
Having already signed two players, he is targeting a centre-back to reinforce his defensive options alongside Eric Bailly. United are scouting centre-backs across Europe with Leonardo Bonucci, Toby Alderweireld, Milan Skriniar among several prolific names.
Harry Maguire: A look back at his season
Harry Maguire has made a rapid evolution over the past season, which earned him a place in the 23-man squad for the World Cup. He has started 3 of the 4 matches till now for England in the tournament.
Last season, the Englishman enjoyed some solid games at the heart of Leicester City's defence, winning 45 tackles, making 49 interceptions, 175 clearances and managing 27 blocks.
Maguire was the player with most appearances for the club last season, playing all 38 games. Alongside Wes Morgan, they created a stable centre-back partnership managing nine clean sheets throughout the Premier League season. His vociferous approach also helped him to organise players around him.
Maguire looks secure with the ball at his feet, he can easily drive the ball out from the back and spray crisp forward passes. His ball-playing skills saw him create 17 chances and register 4 assists, finishing the season with a 78% pass accuracy, which is significant coming from a centre-back.
Not only is he free-flowing with his feet, he is also good with his head, winning 115 aerial duels. We could easily say that Maguire possesses all the ingredients required to be a commanding defender.
Maguire a better option than Alderweireld and Bonucci?
Manchester United have had a £55m bid rejected for Toby Alderweireld, for whom Tottenham are reportedly demanding £70m. Alderweireld will demand high wages, which United will look to avoid, as he is already 29 and doesn't have as many years to contribute at the highest level.
Maguire, on the other hand, is still 25, who can improve his game and could spend his prime years at Old Trafford. At this point he looks a better investment than Alderweireld and he will be cheaper too, with the transfer fee in the range of £30m-35m.
The Englishman has carried his rich vein of form into the World Cup, asserting his place in the team ahead of Gary Cahill. Maguire won 12 headed duels in a single game against Colombia in the Round of 16, and he averages around 5.8 aerial challenges per game.
Not only is he solid defensively, he also contributes in his team's build-up play when in possession, with an average of 67.8 passes per game and an 88% success rate. His dominant aerial play makes him a potent force on set pieces, where United suffered last season against lower ranked teams in the league.
Transfer rumours also suggested that United had prepared a bid for Leonardo Bonucci in the range of £35m, according to Di Marzio. Bonnuci belongs to the bracket of the elite defenders, and he was a part of a famous defensive trio alongside Barzagli and Bonucci which was quite successful, winning six consecutive Serie A titles and reaching two Champions League finals.
Bonucci has since lost his way after switching to AC Milan from Juventus, looking short of confidence and playing without Chiellini and Barzagli alongside made him look defensively weak at times. There are no question marks over his ability, but at 31, age might be starting to take its toll.
For Bonucci to come in the Premier League, and cope with its relentless physical style of play and pace might be too much for him to adjust at his age.
The defensive displays of Harry Maguire show a serious promise for his future. He needs to make a step forward in his career. He is a very focused player who is eager to learn at every given opportunity.
Manchester United probably offers him an optimal platform to improve as well as to represent a bigger club and, with Mourinho as his coach, he could make rapid strides forward in his game.
United should turn their attention towards him because he could prove to be a vital cog next season.