Maguire's one costly devil

Harry Maguire is expected to make an immediate impact on United's backline, which leaked 54 goals in the Premier League. PHOTO: REUTERS
Harry Maguire is expected to make an immediate impact on United's backline, which leaked 54 goals in the Premier League. PHOTO: REUTERS

United to pay Leicester £80m to make centre-back the most expensive defender

LONDON • Manchester United yesterday reached an agreement with Leicester to sign Harry Maguire for £80 million (S$133.5 million), British media reported yesterday.

The England centre-back is understood to be keen to move to Old Trafford and has agreed a five-year contract, which will make him Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's third summer signing after Wales winger Daniel James and England Under-21 right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Maguire will become the most expensive defender in the world, surpassing the £75 million fee Liverpool paid Southampton for Netherlands international Virgil van Dijk in January last year.

He would also become United's second-most expensive recruit after France midfielder Paul Pogba, who was signed for a then world-record £89 million from Juventus in 2016.

The 26-year-old Maguire, who signed a contract extension until 2023 with Brendan Rodgers' team last year, played 31 times in the Premier League last season and also scored three goals.

He moved from Hull to Leicester in 2017 for an initial £12 million, rising to a possible £17 million.

According to Sky Sports, he had already been omitted from the Foxes' friendly with Italian Serie A side Atalanta yesterday, having grown "frustrated" with the situation, before United's bid was accepted.

Maguire had also been a target for Manchester City, who were understood to be his preferred destination, but the English champions were unwilling to match the asking price.

The need for United to conclude a deal increased when Ivory Coast defender Eric Bailly was ruled out for four to five months after suffering a knee injury last week.

 

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    Aerial duels Harry Maguire won in the 2018-19 Premier League season, topping the list just ahead of Virgil van Dijk.

With the English transfer window closing on Thursday, Maguire is unlikely to be the last face coming through the doors at United, with Solskjaer still "working on a few cases".

The Red Devils are negotiating a swop deal with Juventus for Argentina forward Paulo Dybala with Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku moving in the opposite direction, and also hold an interest in Sporting Lisbon midfielder Bruno Fernandes.

Solskjaer told Sky: "We're looking good... The club has been very good and the market is very hard.

"We're trying to get to the start of the season with the squad that we want."

And the addition of Maguire will help United in their bid to make the top four, as he is "a proven commodity in the Premier League".

As it stands, he will be the club's seventh central defender, alongside Bailly, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling and Axel Tuanzebe.

Former Liverpool defender Steve Nicol told the Daily Express: "He will definitely, defensively, make a difference.

"The guy leads, there's no question, the guy's reliable, you know what you're getting.

"He'd be a great signing."

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN, ASSOCIATED PRESS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2019, with the headline 'Maguire's one costly devil'. Print Edition | Subscribe