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  JUST HOW GOOD IS HARRY MAGUIRE?

After months of speculation, Manchester United finally completed the signing of England defender Harry Maguire from Leicester City. The fact United paid £80million to secure the services of the centre-back, making him the most expensive defender in history, highlights just how much value the club placed on adding the 26-year old to their ranks before the new Premier League season gets underway. 

Maguire, who signed a six-year contract, arrives at Old Trafford viewed by many as one of the best centre-backs in English football. The Yorkshireman has built his reputation over a remarkable couple of years, during which time he has established himself as a key member of the England side that reached the World Cup semi-final in 2018. Having come through the ranks at boyhood club Sheffield United, Maguire moved to Hull City in 2014, before Leicester spent £12million to sign him three years later.

It was at the King Power where Maguire really shone, and his performances last summer for England only enhanced his reputation, from the clip of him turning up for international duty for the first time looking like a fresher moving into his new halls of residence, complete with a confused look and black bin liner, to his passion and determination in defence for England during their memorable run to the semis.

The question now is whether he can handle the pressure that comes with playing for Manchester United. Sure, priced as long as 40/1 with the latest Premier League betting odds, United aren't expected to be challenging for the title this season. That said, Manchester United are still Manchester United, and the pressure that comes with playing for them remains unique - and not something everyone can handle.

For Maguire, the expectation that he can flourish at Old Trafford comes down to a lot more than blind hope. Maguire showed during England's World Cup campaign in 2018 that he is capable of handling the pressure of playing at a major tournament, and his leadership qualities have been evident for much of his career. That willingness to stand up and be counted when it matters will be crucial to a United defence that has struggled with that, among numerous other things.

Holy Trinty
"Outside Old Trafford" (CC BY 2.0) by eirikref

Chris Smalling is a decent enough defender, but even his biggest fan couldn't claim he is world-class. Phil Jones, a prolific producer of embarrassing blunders, doesn't look as though he's ever going to be the defender United thought he would when they signed him. Maguire might not fit into that category either but he's certainly an improvement on both members of the defensive duo. The way he plays the game is definitely something United need, and his no-nonsense attitude could be just what this team have been missing.
 
Great in the air, tough in the tackle, and capable of picking a pass when coming out of defence, Maguire is much more than the stereotypical English defender, more likely to boot an opposition striker into the stands as he is pulling out a Cruyff turn to get out of a tight corner. He might not be the superstar signing many United fans were hoping for at the start of the summer but the England man may well prove to be one of the most important signings in United's recent history.

 
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