It appears that Jose Mourinho’s search for a new centre-back will have to continue, despite recent interest in Leicester and England stalwart Harry Maguire.
The 25-year-old’s debut season at the King Power stadium rightly attracted attention from some of England’s elite clubs, after his mix of no-nonsense defending and an ability to play out with the ball helped secure a mid-table finish for Claude Puel’s side. It is also no secret that Mourinho has coveted a defender comfortable at leading a charge from the back this summer.
However, it won’t be easy for United to swoop in for Leicester’s prize possession after Maguire impressed at this summer’s World Cup – further boosting his steep valuation.
So why does Mourinho so desperately want to bring Maguire to Old Trafford next season?
Despite buying Victor Lindelof last summer, in the hope of bringing more composure to the United backline, the Swede has struggled for consistent opportunities at the heart of Mourinho’s new-look defence. Maguire has constantly demonstrated, that no matter the opponent, he possesses the confidence and natural ability to surge forward into midfield with the ball and trigger a counter-attack. His pass accuracy of 78% is a good indication that whilst Maguire can play it simple, he thrives on taking risks and leading his team from the back.
His brash tackling style and willingness to place his head exactly where it hurts is also certain to have the Old Trafford crowd on their feet should the transfer happen. Maguire was named Leicester’s Player of the Season last time around because of his never-say-die attitude and bravery during last-ditch challenges and towering headed clearances. On average, Maguire wins 62% of duels all over the pitch – an invaluable asset for a manager that demands total commitment from his players at all times.
His statistics from England’s unexpectedly successful World Cup campaign this summer tells a similar story.
Maguire’s dominating showings in the heart of an England defence partly comprised by an out of position Kyle Walker shows his maturity on the international stage. His meteoric rise since joining Leicester from Hull for just £17 million has led to Maguire cementing a regular starting place in Gareth Southgate’s revitalised Three Lions set up.
With one crucial assist in England’s first group game against Tunisia, a glancing header that set up Harry Kane’s last-gasp winner, and a stunning pass accuracy of 90%, it isn’t hard to see why Mourinho will be urging the United board to drag the transfer over the finish line.
Whilst there are plenty of other alternatives out there for United, with Toby Alderweireld’s transfer saga threatening to last until deadline day, Maguire possesses a rare assurance on the ball that would provide so much to United’s counter-attacks. In the glory days of Sir Alex Ferguson, Old Trafford would be regularly treated to flowing transitions from defence to attack, and Harry Maguire appears to be the perfect player to just that.