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The debate continues whether the investment in a world record fee believed to be £80 million, for a defender is justified or not. Perhaps it is still too early to form a final definitive opinion. Lets look at some key facts that may help to sway your opinion in either direction.
Jacob Harry Maguire was born on the 5th of March 1993 in Sheffield. After much speculation of a move to Manchester United for two summers, the transfer was finally completed on 5 August 2019, with Maguire signing a six-year contract with the option for a further year for a record fee of £80 million. He made his United debut in their opening match of the Premier League season, a 4–0 home victory over Chelsea on 11 August 2019 and received the Man of the Match award. On 17 January 2020, he was named as the new club captain by manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær and nine days later, he opened his account and the scoring in a 6–0 FA Cup win against Tranmere Rovers by scoring his first goal for United. He scored his first Premier League goal for Manchester United on 17th February 2020 against Chelsea in a 0-2 win away from home.
Maguire came through the youth system at Sheffield United before graduating to the first team in 2011. He played 166 professional games for the Blades and was their Player of the Year three consecutive times, also featuring in the PFA Team of the Year for League One as many times. In 2014, he transferred to Hull City for £2.5 million, who loaned him to Wigan Athletic in 2015. He joined Leicester City in 2017 for an initial fee of £12 million and only one year after signing was linked with moves away with both Manchester clubs keep but ultimately failing to prise him away in the 2018 Summer Transfer Window. Two years later, he moved to Manchester United with the hope of helping the Red Devils urgently addressing a mini crisis in the centre back position. The previous season highlighted the defensive frailties of the Red Devils and signing Maguire seemed to be the obvious solution. Playing in front of a packed Theatre of Dreams at Old Trafford is daunting for any player, however having a hefty price tag and expectations that are sometimes unrealistic has not helped Maguire settle into a team that is currently being rebuilt by his manager. Solskjaer has put his faith into Maguire and entrusted him with the armband since the transfer of Ashley Young. This indicates to me that there is a strong leadership quality in Harry Maguire that may not be evident to those who do not know the true qualities of the man. However he has made some defensive erros and genuine mistakes that should be criticised but overall has improved the side and is missed when absent. As a Manchester United defender, he will be held to the standards of the legends of the past legends such as Gary Pallister, Steve Bruce, Nemanja Vidic or Rio Ferdinand. And so while he will be judged strictly in accordance with these United heroes, sometimes the criticism is not fair as this is a team sport and Maguire can not be held accountable for an overall poor performance.
It takes time to establish a defensive partnership and Maguire in my opinion seems to play best when partnered with Victor Lindelöf. Manchester United have recorded eight clean sheets in their previous ten matches and it’s no coincidence that they have remained unbeaten in that time. Solskjaer has lauded his back line of late and Harry Maguire has spoken about the success of his partnership with Victor Lindelof. Man Utd recorded just two Premier League clean sheets in the first 19 games of the campaign. They’ve managed six in their last ten league games and six more in other competitions since the turn of the year. It is clear that any defensive partnership requires time to develop understanding and the fact that there are other players such as Bailly and Tuanzebe knocking on the door pushes both Maguire and Lindelof to play as well as they can.
Again in my opinion I am not convinced he has delivered his full potential yet but it is unfair to say he has not lived up to his price tag. He has definitely added value to the defence and leadership in the team – something seriously lacking since Rooney left. Perhaps he may become a Manchester United legend over time but I am hoping he will be able to not only lead the team on and off the field but continue to grow and develop as player and a role model to millions of football fans.