Harry Maguire: What’s Next In The Centre-Back’s Career?
Next week, it will be four years since Harry Maguire arrived at Manchester United for a then-British record £80 million fee.
At the time, it seemed expensive but it made sense.
Maguire was coming off the back of a strong season with Leicester City and played a pivotal role in England’s 2018 World Cup run the previous summer.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was delighted with the signing, and six months later, appointed the Yorkshireman as club captain.
Maguire was a mainstay in the team under Solskjaer, despite fluctuating form. Following the Norweigan’s dismissal in November 2021, the centre-back’s performances have taken a tumble.
When Erik ten Hag was appointed Manchester United manager, he wasted no time in proving himself as a person unafraid of making the big calls.
Club legend Cristiano Ronaldo did not and could not suit the playstyle so he was benched and eventually let go. The same went for club legend David de Gea who also did not suit the playstyle and his contract was not renewed.
Maguire has suffered a similar fate. Despite his status as a constant in the squad previously, at different points last season, he found himself as ten Hag’s third, fourth or fifth-choice centre-back.
Even when starting centre-backs Raphaël Varane and Lisandro Martínez were out injured, the Dutchman often elected a partnership of Victor Lindelöf and left-back Luke Shaw, highlighting a serious lack of trust in the player.
Four years on from signing that six-year deal, Maguire has been stripped of the club captaincy. He now finds himself faced with a decision and his career is hanging on the outcome.
Maguire, to his credit, expressed on his social media that he remains committed to the club, writing that he will continue to give his all when wearing the Manchester United shirt.
However, how many chances will he have to wear it next season?
Ten Hag has stressed Maguire’s importance to the squad and encouraged him to “fight for his place” in the squad, but at 30 and seemingly so ill-fitting to the playstyle, it seems unlikely Maguire could work his way back into the first team.
One constant for Maguire is the faith placed in him by England manager Gareth Southgate.
Last season, the centre-back started more games for the Three Lions than he did for Manchester United in the Premier League, and to his credit, he has rarely disappointed for the national team.
Even Southgate will have his limits though and Maguire cannot start for his country at the 2024 European Championships if another season with limited minutes is coming, especially with the talents of Levi Colwill and Marc Guehi emerging as top centre-backs for their club sides.
For the sake of his career, a move is needed.
Transfer guru Fabrizio Romano tweeted that both Manchester United and Maguire’s camp were in agreement that the defender was expected to leave. Other clubs in England are showing interest with West Ham leading the way but finances are thought to be an issue.
Maguire earns around £190,000-a-week, enough to deter the majority of potentially interested clubs.
It’s fair to assume that he would need to take a considerable wage cut to secure a move elsewhere.
Make no mistake, this is a player who has regularly shown for England that he can perform at the highest level in the right system but that system won’t be Erik ten Hag’s.
He has lost his place in Manchester and he must take steps to ensure he doesn’t lose his place with England.