The transfer window is not even open yet, but The Telegraph is reporting a bizarre twist involving two players key to Manchester United’s summer.
As Erik ten Hag looks to shape the Red Devils in his own image, the highest profile star he is reportedly keen to offload is Harry Maguire, who although still officially club captain has slumped to fifth place in the Dutchman’s centre backs pecking order.
Even less of a secret is Ten Hag’s all-consuming need for a quality striker and his admiration of Spurs’ Harry Kane – reported in some quarters as an “obsession” – is plain for all to see.
United are reportedly looking for a fee of around £40 million for Harry 1, while Spurs are looking for a fee in excess of £100m for Harry 2 – if indeed chairman Daniel Levy is willing to sell him at all.
And this is where the early summer twist comes in.
Reporter Matt Law claims that Spurs are keen to sign Maguire, but this is in no way shaping up to be a potential swap deal. In fact, part of the reason they want him, Law says, is to try to keep Kane at the club.
Law reports that “Tottenham’s interest in Maguire could be seen as a potential move to keep Kane, given the striker has previously recommended his England team-mate to the club and the pair share a close relationship from their time together with the national team.”
The reporter adds that the London club have merely “registered interest” in Maguire at this stage and have not yet decided whether to bid.
He also adds that “Maguire could be available for a cut-price fee and would also give Tottenham’s leadership group a boost, with captain Hugo Lloris set to leave the club.”
If the report is accurate, it is a dilemma for United.
Being able to offload Harry 1 early in the window for anything over £30 million would set the summer off to a fantastic start and pump some desperately needed cash into a transfer kitty that has been reported to stand at just £100-£150m.
On the other hand, if the move persuades their number one target to not join them, would that be shooting themselves in the foot?
It is all speculation at this stage, of course. Even if Maguire doesn’t hook up with his England teammate, the latter will be extremely difficult to extract from White Hart Lane, with Levy reportedly having sworn never to do business with a Manchester club again.
Moreover, Karim Benzema’s shock announcement that he is leaving Real Madrid has shot los Blancos into an immediate Kane offensive that would suit Levy much more and Real’s transfer kitty would not suffer from the restrictions that Ten Hag has to work with.
There is also the issue that, according to reliable sources such as The Athletic, Maguire does not want to leave United and that he is determined to stay and fight for his place in Ten Hag’s side. However, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano says “there will be a meeting next week” to decide his future but that “the idea is for Maguire to leave the club”.
Welcome to the summer transfer window.