The next few months will be pivotal for Manchester United’s Harry Maguire as he seeks to revive his faltering football career.
The road back to being a nailed-on starter in United’s first team now looks a very long one owing to the form of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez and also to the 29 year old’s own unconvincing performance against Real Sociedad when given a chance to start.
If the World Cup was at the end of the season, Maguire would almost certainly be looking to move on either temporarily or permanently in January to try to ensure he retains his England place.
But with the strange November scheduling, all the United skipper can do now is hope that Gareth Southgate remains loyal to him despite his lack of minutes. If selected in the forthcoming internationals, his performances could be make-or-break for him going into the month before the big kick-off in Qatar.
Of course, a dramatic loss of form or injury to either Varane or Martinez could provide an opening for Maguire to reclaim his place in the United side and that would come down to a straight choice now between him and Victor Lindelof, with Eric Bailly out on loan and Phil Jones not even registered to play in the Premier or Europa League.
But whilst that might get Maguire over the finish line for Qatar, it could represent only a temporary reprieve at Old Trafford and even if there is a return to better form, the question remains as to whether the former Leicester City man will ever be a Ten Hag type of player.
From United’s perspective, there could be a case for cashing in on an expensive asset in January who still has a reasonable market value in his 30th year.
By next summer, Maguire will be the wrong side of 30 and there is also the uncertainty of what will happen at his June 7th court date where he will appeal his 21 month suspended sentence for attempted bribery and aggravated assault in Mykonos.
If United’s other centre backs are fit going into January and another big club is struggling with injuries, the Red Devils could get considerably more than his £27 million market value (as per transfermarkt.com).
A good World Cup could see that value rise even further and boost his profile again on the international stage.
United could be particularly tempted by an overseas sale to avoid strengthening a Premier League opponent, while Maguire’s strengths may be better suited to a slower-paced league such as Serie A or even la Liga.
Of course, there are many “ifs” and “buts” in the above scenario but it is not an unlikely one. It might suit all concerned for Maguire to move in January and relaunch his career elsewhere.