Are Man Utd wasting their time or is it reasonable to ask £50m for Harry Maguire?

Ian Watson
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire leads the team off the pitch at Old Trafford.
Manchester United captain Harry Maguire on what could be his farewell appearance at Old Trafford.

Is £50million really too much to ask for Harry Maguire?

This is the club captain of the famous Manchester United, for whom they paid a world-record fee four years ago, and England’s starting centre-back with 57 caps to his name. In that context, are the Red Devils’ demands not quite reasonable?

No. Of course not. United are wasting everyone’s time, including their own.

In some respects, you can’t blame them for trying. United need the money. They have a summer recruitment programme to fund which relies on sales to ensure it stays within FFP boundaries. For that, the Red Devils have to utilise their assets. And Maguire is arguably their biggest.

Some might point to Jadon Sancho; others to players like Anthony Martial, Fred or Scott McTominay. Regardless, United need to understand that these players are not worth the figures they think they are.

The club doesn’t catch on quick. United have been mind-bogglingly bad at this for so long. According to the Daily Mail, they have made just £113million from player sales in the last decade, in which time Liverpool, Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham have all raised over £300million. Chelsea, clusterf*ck though they may have been in the last year, have raked in £700million.

Why? Primarily because United appear sh*t-scared of losing players on the cheap – as they see it – or for nothing. So they price them high, fail to sell, and eventually the disaster they were trying to avoid happens anyway. And in the meantime, the manager is stuck with players he has little or no use for.

READ: Man Utd created transfer problems by wanting ‘peanuts’ for Beckham as ‘tax’ complaints mount

The same patterns seem to be on repeat again this summer so the clear-out Erik ten Hag wanted – for the purposes of a functional squad as much as raising transfer funds – looks unlikely to happen. Unless the penny finally drops.

United are going to have to be more realistic with their demands. It’s okay to test the water with high starting prices if there is a market for what they are selling. But in United’s case, there isn’t the clamour for these players that they like to think there is.

We’ve stated why United, in their minds, might believe Maguire to be worth £50million, but it demands more – much more – context. The defender might start for England, but he doesn’t for United. Indeed, if Raphael Varane or Lisandro Martinez are unavailable, Ten Hag prefers Luke Shaw as first reserve. Maguire might have been ahead of Victor Lindelof in the pecking order not long ago but now it is a toss-up. So it’s entirely possible that Ten Hag views Maguire as fifth-choice centre-back.

Last season, Maguire started eight Premier League games, coming on during another eight, more often than not when Ten Hag needed a body and big head in the box to close out matches. For that purpose, he can be useful. But not so much that Ten Hag would miss him.

The captaincy will be all over Maguire’s CV but that’s essentially meaningless now. Bruno Fernandes is more representative of Ten Hag on the pitch and now there are others who don’t need an armband to lead. Reports suggest Ten Hag will make that official in the not-too-distant future.

And it isn’t as though there is scope for Maguire to greatly evolve. He turned 30 in March and any club interested in taking him this summer would reasonably argue that his peak is in the rear-view mirror.

None of this is to say that there is no appeal in Maguire. He is still a solid defender – Gareth Southgate certainly thinks so – and a generally positive presence. Maguire is a good egg and the feeling persists that he would benefit from leaving United as much as the club might from cashing in on him. For a side which spends more time deeply defending their box, Maguire could be a very good buy.

But not at £50million. Perhaps not even at £40million. If United were to lower their price to around £30-35million, they would almost certainly generate some interest where currently there appears to be none.

Ten Hag tired of Sancho

Similar goes for Martial and Sancho. Given what we’ve seen – and what we’ve not seen – from Martial in recent seasons, what club outside of Saudi Arabia would pay £40million for the Frenchman? And it’s no use demanding big money for Sancho while he looks in dire need of a reboot which a loan may facilitate. Then there’s Alex Telles, Eric Bailly, Brandon Williams…

It isn’t as simple as opening the door for Maguire and co, some of whom have a couple of years remaining on contracts they would never get elsewhere. But United have to compromise and take measures to move on. Quickly, since Ten Hag’s plans seem to depend on it.

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