ENGLAND VERDICT: Harry Maguire must up his game if he wants Man Utd move this summer

ENGLAND VERDICT: Harry Maguire must up his game if he wants Man Utd move this summer

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England star Harry Maguire needs to up his game (Pic: GETTY/ REUTERS)

Harry Maguire went to the World Cup as a freshman from Leicester looking to do his bit to hold the Three Lions defence together.

But he returned a hero, having had such a significant role in helping Gareth Southgate’s men reach the semi-finals that a campaign was launched to have his face on the new £50 note.

For the record, Maguire was up against Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana and Emmeline Pankhurst.

But Maguire has more important competition to worry about than those who, one way or another, changed the history of a nation.

For Thatcher read Joe Gomez. For Princess Di read John Stones and for Pankhurst read Ben Chilwell or Michael Keane.

These are the reasons Maguire should be looking over his shoulder – and not just because Matej Vydra claims his opponent ‘doesn’t seem to know what’s happening behind him.’

Vydra was referring to how Maguire managed to get himself sent-off inside five minutes during the Foxes game at Turf Moor last weekend.

What is going on behind Maguire is an English evolution that is waiting for no man. Or in this case, not even very young men or teenagers.

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England star Harry Maguire has been a rock for Gareth Southgate (Pic: REUTERS)

“The message is clear. No-one can afford to stand still and let their game stagnate, which is what Maguire has done this season”

Maguire appears too humble and down to earth to take things for granted, like his place in Gareth Southgate’s starting XI. He’s from Sheffield, after all.

He has a big head, but not for the normal reasons associated with professional footballers.

Yet his form at club level this season has smacked of someone struggling to motivate himself following the peak of Russia 2018.

With Manchester United keen to sign him this summer too, it would be easy for Maguire to think he’s made it. That he has the world at his feet.

But no sport is more fickle than football. Kieran Trippier started that fateful semi-final in Moscow with the opening goal. Last night at Wembley he started on the bench.

Southgate is accumulating a squad of such depth and talent that few have the privilege of being guaranteed to start in the team.

Perhaps Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, John Stones when fit and, for the time being at least, Jordan Pickford, are the exceptions to this rule.

Maguire is now 26, which makes him one of the elder statesmen of a current squad so young it resembles more of a youth club at times.

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Harry Maguire became a hero at the World Cup (Pic: GETTY)

The message is clear. No-one can afford to stand still and let their game stagnate, which is what Maguire has done this season.

His threat at set-pieces will always be of huge appeal to Southgate, but this shouldn’t be a reason to pick Maguire, because his job is to stop goals, not score them.

He did this last night, albeit against a Czech Republic side that had less threat in them than a wet sponge.

We didn’t even get the chance to see if Vydra was right and that Maguire is one of England’s ‘weak links’.

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Stop Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire can prove he’s made it (Pic: EPA)

But bigger challenges lie ahead, like Holland in the UEFA Nations League semi-finals in June and perhaps a final clash with Portugal.

This would involve a meeting with a certain Cristiano Ronaldo and the chance to win silverware for the first time since 1966.

If Maguire gets the chance to stop Ronaldo and succeeds, then we will know once and for all that Vydra was wrong – and ‘slab head’ remains a huge part of England’s foundations.

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