Born in the south east of Ireland, Simon put his life-long love of football to good use when he started a successful independent blog in 2010. That opened up an alternative route to a career in journalism, and having had work published across a number of sites and publications, Simon joined the staff at Spotlight Sports Group in 2018.
Manchester United have lodged an improved £70m bid for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire, in an attempt to prise the England international away from the King Power Stadium.
Leicester are believed to have already rebuffed United’s fresh offer however, making it clear they are not interested in selling at that price.
Having seen United shell out close to £50m for the more inexperienced Aaron Wan-Bissaka, the Foxes consider Maguire, an England international regular and World Cup semi finalist, to be a more valuable commodity.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to add leadership and quality to his central defensive options, and the Norwegian, undeterred by Leicester’s demands, is reportedly ready to push ahead with plans to make Maguire his third signing of the summer.
Keep up to date with the latest transfer rumours and gossip on our Daily Transfer Update page here.
Manchester City still in the picture
Harry Maguire’s services are in high-demand, and Premier League champions Manchester City are also understood to be casting covetous glances in the 26-year old’s direction.
City stalwart and legendary long-serving captain Vincent Kompany returned to Belgium last month, leaving a considerable void in terms of physical presence and character in the club’s defensive ranks.
Nicolas Otamendi was also expected to leave the Etihad this summer, though Kompany’s departure may have influenced the Argentinean to reconsider his position at the club.
Should Otamendi decide to stay in England, City’s need for defensive reinforcements would diminish, leaving their Manchester rivals United as Maguire’s only suitors.
Leicester City under no pressure to sell
Understandably, Leicester would be loathe to lose one of their key players ahead of their preparations for the new 2019/20 Premier League season, though reports suggest that Maguire has made it known to the Foxes’ board that he would welcome the opportunity to move to a top six club.
Maguire is also thought to be concerned that Leicester might price him out of a summer move for the second successive year, though the 20-times capped England international penned a new 5-year deal with City as recently as last September.
That concern is unlikely to develop into any sort of mutinous action by Maguire however, and the centre back has said that he won’t agitate or push for a move away from Leicester if an agreement can’t be reached.
Having watched Liverpool pay £75m for Southampton centre-half Virgil van Djik last year, and seen the subsequent inflation in transfer fees since, Leicester will demand closer to £100m for their prized asset this summer.
Keep up to date with all the Premier League’s confirmed transfers in the summer transfer window with our regularly updated list here.
Why do United want Maguire?
In the 2018/19 season, Manchester United conceded a whopping 54 goals in 38 games – the most goals they have ever shipped in a single Premier League campaign.
In truth, United’s alarmingly porous backline fell way below the required standard in two areas, and the problems caused by their inability to keep their opponents off the scoresheet were further compounded by their central defenders’ lack of quality in possession.
Solskjaer believes that the accusation of Harry Maguire would act as a salve for two of United’s most burning defensive issues.
The table above shows that Maguire made fewer tackles on average per game than any of United’s current centre backs in the Premier League last season, however, Maguire’s much more favourable interceptions and clearances figures suggest that the England man is much more adept at snuffing out trouble before it fully develops, negating the need to make a challenge.
Though Maguire’s pass completion rate surprisingly falls short of his United counterparts, the former Hull City employee’s ability to carry the ball through the lines from a deeper position is something that Solskjaer’s current options cannot match.
Maguire also offers a more potent goal threat from set pieces, scoring more Premier League goals last season than all of United’s centre halves combined.
Odds on Maguire’s next club
With Manchester United and Leicester City still locked in negotiations over a fee for Maguire, more concrete developments are likely to take place before the weekend.
Brendan Rodgers and his Leicester City squad head to Évian-les-Bains for 6 days of training in the French Alps on Sunday, while United are preparing to fly to Australia for the first leg of their pre-season tour the same day.
Both clubs will be keen to have the muddy Maguire situation looking a little clearer before they depart, and that should act as an accelerant for discussions.
Leicester will of course, hope that Manchester City re-enter the race to sign Maguire, in a move that would spark a bidding war between two of the Premier League’s richest clubs.
United though, look like Maguire’s likeliest destination at present, in a deal that could potentially make him the most expensive defender in the history of football.
Maguire could become the priciest English player of all time too – check out the current Top 10 most expensive English players ever here.
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