Manchester City have identified Leicester City centre-half Harry Maguire as the man they want to replace Vincent Kompany this summer after the legendary Belgian defender announced his departure to Anderlecht this week.
Fresh reports emerging this week are suggesting that the towering England international is Pep Guardiola’s number one choice to fill the void left by Kompany.
City manager Guardiola approached Maguire on the pitch after Leicester City’s narrow 0-1 Premier League reverse at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month to express his admiration for the 26-year old and to praise his performance on the night, and now the Citizens’ boss looks set to make his interest concrete.
Leicester are thought to be keen to hang on to their prized asset however, and Maguire signed a new bumper 5-year contract with the Foxes as recently as last September after a hugely impressive World Cup campaign in France and amid rumoured interest from City’s Manchester rivals United.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is believed to be prepared to veto any potential move away from the King Power Stadium for Maguire, and it’s thought that Manchester City might be forced to eclipse the £75m world-record fee Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil van Dijk to get their man.
Rodgers is aware that many of his talented Leicester players will attract interest from bigger clubs this summer, though he is prepared to deal with each case in an open and philosophical manner:
“All you can do is present possibilities” he said in an interview earlier this month.
‘I have had situations before with players who have been linked with going to bigger clubs and you try to give an honest appraisal of it.
‘I will speak to a player like I would speak to my son. I would give them the possibilities of staying and what it might look like being away. Then they are men and they have to make their own decision.’
However, if Maguire does decide to leave Leicester this summer, Manchester City won’t be the only club vying for his signature. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most likely possible destinations for the central defender.
Manchester City – 2/1
Vincent Kompany’s imminent departure leaves Manchester City lacking leadership and a physical presence at centre-half, and Harry Maguire certainly provides plenty of both for Leicester City and England.
Manchester City are one of the few teams in Europe who wouldn’t balk at paying north of £80m for Maguire, or any player in fact, and the 26-year old would relish the opportunity to try to fill Kompany’s considerably large boots.
With international teammates Kyle Walker, John Stones, Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling already at the club, there would be plenty of familiar faces to help Maguire settle in at City should he complete a transfer to the Etihad this summer.
Manchester United – 2/1
It was widely documented last summer, that former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho had identified Harry Maguire as the perfect player to strengthen the club’s lightweight defence.
However, controversial United CEO Ed Woodward is believed to have refused to sanction a deal for Maguire, believing that the defender didn’t provide a significant upgrade on the players already available to Mourinho.
A year later, United are still drastically short of quality in defensive areas, and rumours this month suggest that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is ready to rekindle the club’s interest in Maguire.
Convincing both Woodward and Maguire that a move to Old Trafford for the centre-half would be in everyone’s best interests could prove tricky for the Norwegian however, and few players would choose the red half of Manchester over the blue at present.
Tottenham Hotspur – 8/1
Tottenham Hotspur have also emerged as contenders for Maguire’s signature in recent weeks, with reports suggesting that Mauricio Pochettino is weighing up a move for the defender as a possible replacement for Toby Alderweireld.
Alderweireld is contemplating his future at Spurs, though the Belgian, who has a £25m release clause in his contract this summer, could still reaffirm his commitment to the club.
However, if the 30-year old does decide to leave North London, Maguire would rank near the top of Pochettino’s list of targets to replace him.
Though Spurs have been notoriously frugal in the transfer market, this summer could mark the turning point in terms of their outlay on new players, with a warchest of around £150m believed to be available to Pochettino.
Spending half or more of that kitty on Maguire would be a signal of intent from a club who are ready to establish themselves as one of football’s elite clubs.
Arsenal – 8/1
Tottenham’s North London rivals Arsenal have also been heavily linked with Harry Maguire over the past year.
The Gunners finished with the 3rd worst defensive record in the Premier League’s top 10 after West Ham and Manchester United this season, and Maguire would undoubtedly help to improve Arsenal’s dismal performances at the back.
Maguire’s £80m+ valuation would blow a massive hole in Arsenal’s summer budget however, and Unai Emery might be reluctant to put all his eggs in one basket with the need for reinforcements in several areas of the team just as pressing.