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Manchester United new captain: Top three candidates for the role

by Vatsal Gupta

It was a decision that could be seen coming from a long way but was still surprising. Erik ten Hag and Harry Maguire mutually agreed that the English defender step down from his captaincy role and the focus now turns to the options for Manchester United’s new captain.

The post of Man United captain is an illustrious one and carries a lot of weight and influence.

Here are the top three options to replace Harry Maguire as Man United captain

Man United new captain options-

The one major shift Ten Hag has made at the club is bringing more leadership and personality into the side with his signings. Combine that with his own increased influence, the atmosphere at the club has never been better.

Looking at the tenure of players at the club, somebody like Luke Shaw will be a candidate, especially after establishing himself as the undisputed first-choice last season.

However, he has never been part of the leadership group and neither has he held that position even in the absence of the usual suspects.

Therefore, keeping aside the time spent at the club, three players make the most sense-

Bruno Fernandes

The chief option and likely to be the one finalised as well. Fernandes was the club captain last season in all but official capacity.

As Maguire lost his first-team place to Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane, Fernandes was the one who led United onto the field the most times, even though David de Gea, nine years his senior at the club, started alongside him.

Fernandes has been a vocal presence on and off the pitch ever since his arrival and fans have been clamouring for him to be given the role permanently.

He embodies the fighting spirit of the club on the pitch while being a role model with his actions off it. Furthermore, his perennial availability means there will rarely be a need to shuffle the armband around.

An oft-overlooked thing is the dressing room dynamic. The strong English influence created under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has now faded and with the emergence of the Spanish-speaking contingent, Fernandes fits the bill better to bring the team together.

Ten Hag has made it clear that he is the one who decided the club captain and if his choice in Maguire’s absence last season is any indication, the role is Fernandes’ to lose.

Raphael Varane

If Fernandes doesn’t get it, United could do a lot worse than a player who has won the lot in football while being a crucial part of some of the greatest international and club sides.

Varane’s first season at United left a lot to be desired with injury issues hampering his progress. However, Ten Hag’s masterful management of his minutes during the 2022/23 season saw the regal version of the defender return.

The Frencham has retired from international football to focus on his club career so he will remain available throughout the year, something which can’t be said for Fernandes.

Although not as vocal a presence as the Portuguese, Varane is the quintessential “leader by example” professional.

He exudes calmness in the face of adversity and his vast experience at the top level means he will command respect from the dressing room.

At 30 years old, he is arguably in the peak of his career which is likely to get stretched in the absence of international football workload.

Back at his best, the role of captaincy would be a just reward for the progress he has shown at the club despite winning everything before joining United.

Talking of players who won everything before joining United…


Harry Maguire was given club captaincy less than six months after arriving at Old Trafford. Sometimes, if a player is ready and the right choice, nothing else matters.

Casemiro is a prime example of the phenomenon. The Brazilian wall silenced doubters in emphatic fashion last summer with his commanding performances in the middle of the park.

Rejuvenated by a new challenge in new surroundings, the midfielder brought his best as he sometimes single-handedly dragged the team through difficult moments.

Like Varane, he has won everything there is to win at the club level and is widely respected by his peers in the footballing world, not just at United.

In just a year, he has become a huge fan favourite and a figure behind whom supporters can rally.

It is a credit to the impact he has made in such a short time that if he were to be given the Man United captain role, no eyebrows will be raised.

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