It would seem Harry Maguire cannot do anything correctly. An abysmal 2021/22 season saw him replaced at the heart of Manchester United’s defence last summer by Lisandro Martinez, who proved revelatory in Maguire’s stead.
Intermittent, and inconsistent, performances followed this season which has given little credence to the idea of Maguire as a rotational option, despite holding the captaincy.
It had appeared something of a formality the English centre-back would depart from Old Trafford this summer, in a personal bid to regain form at club-level while offering United the potential of raising money to fund ten Hag’s continued overhaul of the squad.
Ten Hag has prioritised a goalkeeper comfortable in possession, an energetic midfielder, and a reliable number nine this summer. Securing Champions League football will prove integral to these plans as being outside of Europe’s premier competition inhibits your ability to attract players.
The confirmation of Mason Mount as United’s new number seven appears to tick ten Hag’s midfield box, while concrete steps are being taken to reunite the Dutchman with his former goalkeeper, Andre Onana.
The centre-forward option remains more ambiguous. Harry Kane is the obvious candidate but a deal appears unlikely this summer, with Rasmus Højlund mooted as a younger alternative.
The Guardian reports, however, the club may be an unintended victim of its own success.
Champions League qualification brings with it the prospect of exciting European encounters – the pinnacle of club football. It also brings about a ‘considerable wage rise’ for the United squad as the players’ contracts dictate they be financially rewarded for a 3rd place finish and a return to the Champions League.
However, this increase in wage is “making it more challenging” to sell Maguire this summer, as the teams prospectively interested in him are not interested in matching that level of contract. Maguire appears a player possessing a contract not commensurate with his ability – a recurring issue at Old Trafford over the past decade.
The Guardian details how United’s captain will “measure any prospective move against the potential loss of earnings” involved in leaving Manchester. It’s unlikely, furthermore, Maguire’s prospective new club will be one competing for honours. United represents his best option financially, as well as competitively.
Countering this, however, is Maguire’s “wishes to remain an automatic choice for England” at the heart of defence. Gareth Southgate has previously described the difficulties with selecting a player at international level who is not starting for his club – “Inevitably it’s not a situation which can continue forever.”
Maguire is acutely aware of this and knows, despite a favourable World Cup experience, he need more consistent time on the pitch to continue as the undisputed centre-back option for his country. This desire may prove key to a transfer for a player who cannot seem to even exit the club in an effective manner, let alone defend for it.
Follow The Peoples Person on Twitter, Instagram, or Threads for all the latest news as it happens and to join in the conversation.