July 24, 2019
Manchester United may try to finalise a deal to sign Leicester City defender Harry Maguire before the end of the week, according to reports. The 26-year-old is apparently Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s top transfer target at this stage of the summer in order to strengthen the defence ahead of another new era at the Theatre of Dreams.
Bids have been rejected by Leicester for Maguire this summer and they are seeking between £80 million and £90 million for the player this summer, which is a great return on the £17 million the club paid for him on his transfer from Hull City in 2017. United have reportedly earmarked Tottenham Hotspur’s Toby Alderweireld as back up.
Alderweireld has a £25 million release clause this summer, as long as it is activated two weeks before the summer transfer window closes, which gives United just over a day to activate it, so they must hurry up if they want to get things moving. It is even reported that if the clause is not activated, Spurs may sell Alderweireld for £40 million after this week.
Maguire played what could have been his final game for Leicester on Tuesday evening as they beat Cambridge United 3-0, with Maguire opening the scoring in the 58th minute of the match with a header from a Ben Chilwell cross and was taken off two minutes after. Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers spoke about Maguire, saying:
“He is a top player coveted by top clubs and I respect and understand why they would want him.
“How Harry is handling things has been fantastic. Whatever happens to any player like that, you want what is the best for them in that situation.
“It is not a good example to players if one misbehaves, throws toys out of the pram and gets the reward they wanted. It is not what you want to see.
“Harry has never wavered and wants to work. You can say that but then you have to do it and put in the hard yards but he has so focused on his game and getting fit. He is a joy to work with.
“There has been nothing new. Until anything is agreed, my job is to make sure that Harry, for the length of time he is here at this club, whether it is one day, one week or the remainder of his contract, is to make sure he is the best player he can possibly be.
“We are in a fortunate situation that we don’t need to sell. The club is in a great state of health. There is no big pressure to sell and if a player does leave Leicester, the valuation has to be met.”
Obviously, with just over a fortnight of the transfer window left to run, United will need to move quickly as Leicester would need to replace Maguire and Solskjaer would like to see the player involved in some of the remaining pre-season matches with Spurs (Thursday), Kristiansund (30 July) and AC Milan (3 August) left ahead of the opening Premier League match against Chelsea at Old Trafford (11 August).
United central defender, Victor Lindelof, has today stated that if the cub did sign Maguire, it would be ‘perfect’ despite it adding more competition for a starting role at the club with the likes of Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo and Axel Tuanzebe already at the club. Speaking to ESPN, Lindelof, 25, said:
“I like the competition. I love it, actually. I think it’s great for a club to have that competition.
“If you have good players in your position you have to work hard every day, especially in training, and that helps a team to go to the next level as well.
“For me it’s perfect. I like it. I think everyone at this club wants to be at the highest level.
“I’m very good friends with them all. In training we compete and then off the pitch we are friends. That’s how it should be.”
If United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward manages to pull this off, it will be a great start for Solskjaer ahead of his first full season at the club. The defence clearly needs to be strengthened after the club conceded 54 goals in the Premier League alone last season. Whether it is Alderweireld or Maguire, it matters very little as both will add the presence of a central defender that United lacks currently – both would also be a great partner to Lindelof, leaving the others on the sidelines.