The tug of war for Harry Maguire could be the saga of the summer transfer window, but why are Manchester United and Manchester City so keen on the Leicester defender?
The Manchester rivals are set to go head to head for Maguire now that England’s Nations League campaign is over, Sky Sports News understands, and are prepared to enter talks over a deal that would likely smash the record for an English defender.
Here, we look at how Maguire’s defensive statistics may give an indication as to where he would fit best, how his numbers stack up against the rest of the Premier League and whether Leicester can keep hold of their star man…
‘Maguire has the attributes’
Maguire’s confidence in stepping out from defence caught Leicester’s eye when the Yorkshireman was at Hull, and that attribute has stuck with the 26-year-old – his dribbling success rate is the second highest among any defender in the Premier League.
Maguire’s aerial duel success rate is also the highest among any Premier League defender, a trait referenced in song by England fans during the Nations League.
Sky Sports‘ Gary Neville feels Maguire has all the qualities needed to be a modern centre-back, and places him on the same level as other defenders in terms of confidence in playing out from the back.
Speaking on The Gary Neville Podcast, he said: If you think of the attributes of centre-backs, he has them in abundance. Leicester fans won’t thank me for this, but they’re going to be under real pressure to keep him this summer.
We talk about John Stones being good on the ball, I actually think Maguire is the equal of him on the ball. A big statement, maybe, as Stones is seen as the composed, ball-playing centre-back, but I think Maguire is just as good on the ball.
United or City?
Maguire is thought to be one of a number of central defenders being considered by City to replace Vincent Kompany, Sky Sports News understands.
City may be looking for two defenders, with Nicolas Otamendi likely to leave the Etihad in search of a regular starting role.
However, both Aymeric Laporte and Maguire are left-sided centre-backs, meaning one would need to budge to the right.
Interestingly, in the City documentary ‘All or Nothing’, Pep Guardiola highlighted one of Maguire’s weaknesses in behind-the-scenes footage, telling Kevin de Bruyne to target the defender because he is not fast.
Find that situation because the guy [Maguire] is not fast… you will find space here.
Though City are champions, and finished 32 points above United last season, could Old Trafford be better suited to Maguire’s style? City may stop at ‘no’ before United, given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s need for a defensive overhaul.
Here, we compare Maguire’s stats with City and United’s centre-backs from the 2018/19 Premier League season.
We know City like to play from the back; their defenders average 77 passes per game compared to United’s 42. Maguire is used to being on the ball more than he would be at United, but it would be a step up at the Etihad.
His 86 per cent passing accuracy is three per cent lower than United’s centre backs, and seven per cent lower than City’s.
Physicality and tackling
A strength Maguire would bring to both sides is his physicality. His duel success of 73 per cent is the second highest in the Premier League – only behind Virgil van Dijk – and would be a welcome improvement for both teams.
Slightly less impressive is his tackle success rate. At 55 per cent, it’s in line with City’s average, but poorer than United’s.
Maguire would want to teradicate this stat from his game. He made four errors that led to shots last year, one resulting in a goal. That’s the same as City’s four centre backs combined, while United’s defenders made eight in total.
The view from Leicester
His current club Leicester do not want to sell him, however, and it is understood they have therefore not put a valuation on the 26-year-old.
Sky Sports News reporter Rob Dorsett feels Leicester are in a strong position, and could feasibly hold onto their man…
The Leicester City viewpoint is that they don’t want to sell, nor have any need to sell. With very rich owners, who want to support new manager Brendan Rodgers in a bid to push for the top six, they want to keep their best players. Maguire is definitely one of those, and he signed a new five-year contract just nine months ago, so they’re in a strong position to protect a player they see as a key asset.
It’s thought Maguire would be open to the idea of a move – to Manchester City in particular, with the prospect of Pep Guardiola improving his reputation as one of the best progressive-passing central defenders in the game – but he is also very happy at Leicester, and respectful of the opportunity they gave him to play in the Premier League again after Hull City’s relegation two season ago; he won’t cause disruption or sulk if the move doesn’t happen.
Because of the length of his contract, his age (26) and the current market, Leicester won’t even enter into negotiations unless any suggested offer is in the region of the £75m Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk.
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(c) Sky News 2019: Why is Harry Maguire so sought after by Man Utd and Man City?