Manchester United have finally agreed a world-record fee with Leicester City over the transfer of Harry Maguire, according to reports.
With just seven days to go till the transfer window slams shut for Premier League teams, Manchester United continue to underwhelm in the transfer market. The club has only managed two signings in Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The frustration and anxiety is building up amongst the club’s massive fan base. It looked like another over-hyped build up to a transfer window filled with innumerable promises of change, and another window where those promises would eventually fall through. Or so we thought.
Over the last couple of days, United have been strongly linked with stunning moves for Harry Maguire, Paulo Dybala, Sergej Milinković Savić and Bruno Fernandes. It has sent fans into absolute delirium, with the dream that they can finally have a side capable of competing for trophies again. With news from the ever reliable Fabrizio Romano coming through about the eagerly anticipated deal for Maguire, the club’s fans are understandably beyond relieved.
Harry Maguire is set for medicals. All details completed between Man United and Leicester, it's paperworks time then it'll be official. Here we go! ? #MUFC #ManUnited #transfers
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 3, 2019
It may seem a bit much, but their excitement is well and truly justified. United have been in desperate need of a quality center-back for years now. Since Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic left the club, they have signed Marcos Rojo, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof, while Matteo Darmian was signed to replace Rafael and Antonio Valencia.
The fact that Phil Jones, Ashley Young and Chris Smalling, who were all around during Rio and Vida’s latter years, still managed 24, 41 and 34 appearances respectively for United last season says a lot about how poor the new signings have fared.
It is easy to forget Darmian’s existence at the club at times, while Eric Bailly started his Old Trafford career brilliantly before suffering constant long-term injuries. He’s on the treatment table once more, suffering a knee injury during pre-season that will keep him out for the rest of the year.
With that in mind, it was quintessential that United signed a center-back this summer. Victor Lindelof is the only defensive player who has shown any sort of improvement, and seems to be on the rise after a disastrous first season as a United player. He was their best center-back last season, and it became a must for them to find him a stable partner.
Harry Maguire does not just represent a stable partner, he is also a player who has statistically outdone Lindelof in every department defensively. That isn’t a statement to put Lindelof down, rather, one that hopes the Swede can thrive off the Englishman and further improve his game.
Communication is something that has never been established between a center-back pairing at United since the Rio-Vidic pairing. And how could it?
There has never been a consistency in the selection of the back-line due to players constantly getting injured. It hampered Van Gaal, who had to play Carrick and Darmian at the heart of defense and the issue was then passed down into the Jose Mourinho era.
A master in the art of building a good defensive team, Mourinho knew his side needed a new central defender but his demands were ignored by the board. It cost them big time. The club conceded 54 goals in the Premier League last season – their worst ever total in the Premier League.
It seems the board finally understood how much improvement was needed, and the signing of Harry Maguire is a massive step in the right direction.
It is important that Maguire and Lindelof find a way to stay fit. Building a clear line of communication and an understanding of each other’s movements on and off the ball is how Rio and Vidic thrived together and were so successful. That level of understanding comes with consistency though, and the only way to develop that over time is through the two of them staying fit and starting games for United together.
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This will no doubt be worked on, and the fact that United will now go into the new season with a solution to both the center-back and the right-back problem will be very crucial to their chances of having a good season. Harry Maguire is set to sign for United for £80 million on a five year contract, according to reports circulating in England.
Is Maguire worth the world-record fee for a defender? Probably not. Is he world class yet? The answer to that would also be a no.
However, he is definitely worth every penny in terms of how much United needed him, and is a massive upgrade to the options the club have at their disposal. He will only improve this side and with the potential of forming a long-term formidable partnership with Lindelof, he is by no means a waste of money.
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