Harry Maguire made plenty of headlines over the summer when we swapped Leicester City for Manchester United in a deal worth around £80m. The imposing defender had impressed for the Foxes and England over the past two seasons, but given the price tag Maguire still had plenty to prove.
Now, more than 40 matches into his United career and the former Sheffield United and Hull City defender looks to have begun paying back some of the money United invested in him. With 29 matches played in the Premier League, the Red Devils have conceded just 30 goals, making them a good option with Nostrabet for the unders on goals, and Maguire has played every minute. Only Paul Pogba has completed more passes per match than Maguire on average, while he has also won 4.7 aerials duels per match. His impact in the opposition box has not quite lived up to expectations or the surprisingly short odds, but with two goals so far, he has shown some of his threat from set pieces.
Maguire though will still be hoping to build on his early progress and stamp his authority as the leader of United’s defence. His lack of speed has sometimes been exposed by pacey attackers, while manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has switched between a back three and back four and this has taken time to adapt to. Given his price tag and reputation, fans will expect him begin to have the transformative effect Virgil van Dijk has had at Liverpool, but early evidence suggests that may not be prove to be the case.
Playing in the style that Solskjaer has preferred, Maguire looks comfortable. United tend to attack through counter attacks and defend slightly deeper than some of their rivals, meaning Maguire can rely on his aerial dominance to effectively defend the box. When used as the central man in a back three, he rarely has to cover in the channels, while he is also afforded time to distribute.
However, if United decide to move away from Solskjaer and towards a more front-footed style of play, Maguire could begin to struggle. His lack of pace would certainly be an issue if they played a higher line, while it would place more pressure on his technical ability. Maguire is not the most agile of defenders either, which limits his ability to make tackles and track attackers in wide areas.
This is largely projection though, as Maguire has rarely been required to do this role. In the current system at United, he is well suited and has done well. But if fans expect him to be their Van Dijk, they might end up disappointed.