Following a lengthy pursuit, Manchester United have finally agreed to sign centre-back Harry Maguire from Leicester City in a world-record deal. The 26-year-old underwent a medical on Sunday, and managers of both clubs have given their verbal confirmation of the deal.
United’s interest in Maguire was not new as they had pursued the England international last summer too. It took them more than a year to finally land their number one defensive target, and it has cost them a lot of money.
The England international has joined United in a £80m deal, eclipsing the £75m Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk last year. Thus, as things stand, Maguire is the most expensive defender in the world.
The transfer fee paid by United for Maguire has been a topic of huge debate in football circles. Some observers say that Maguire is not worth that money even in this inflated market. Especially when a centre-back like Matthijs De Ligt has changed clubs for a much lesser transfer fee.
Justifying money paid for Maguire
Former United boss Jose Mourinho made a big fuss about not being able to sign a new centre-back during last summer transfer window. After failing to sign either of Harry Maguire or Toby Alderweireld during the summer, United struggled a lot with their centre-back pairing throughout the season. It would be wrong to blame United’s failure to sign a centre-back for Mourinho’s eventual sacking, but it did play a huge role.
Both Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tried multiple partnerships at the centre of United defence last season, but none could bring stability to the back. United conceded a total of 54 goals during the season, making them the worst defence among the top nine teams in the league.
Hence, United’s need for a centre-back this summer was very obvious to every club, including Leicester City. It was also public knowledge that Maguire was United’s number one target this summer as they had been in his pursuit since the end of the last season.
Besides United, champions Manchester City were also in Maguire’s pursuit for some time but eventually backed out as the asking price was out of their budget. Furthermore, the ongoing transfer window has a dearth of good centre-backs, which also allowed Leicester to stick to their demanding price.
Over the course of the window, United had a number of offers rejected by Leicester before their final bid was deemed worthy by the selling club. With less than a week left in the window, United were forced to pay Leicester’s asking price as they had no viable back-up option to Maguire.
The English centre-back is a good defender, and he possesses valuable experience of playing in the Premier League, which probably added £20m to his price. United might have had to a premium price for Maguire, but he can straightaway make way into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s starting eleven, which is a big plus as Eric Bailly is currently out with an injury.
Undoubtedly, United have paid a premium price for Maguire, but it will be all worth it if he can help shore up United’s defence this season.