The new Premier League season has barely started but already there has been a lot of attention focused on Manchester United‘s summer signing Harry Maguire, following his £80m move from Leicester City to Old Trafford.
Maguire was one of England’s best performers at last year’s World Cup Finals and the 26-year-old defender made an immediate and positive impression, following a solid display during his United debut against Chelsea, who were beaten 4-0 in Manchester.
Among those who praised him was former England and Arsenal centre-back Martin Keown, who used his column in the Daily Mail to say: “Maguire reads danger like you or I would read a Beano comic.
“It comes naturally to the six-foot, four-inch defender, and that is what Manchester United have paid good money for. When he wins the ball, it is a cue for United to attack.”
Former teammate Danny Higginbotham told The Sun he became aware of Maguire’s quality when he spent a season with him at Sheffield United: “He was good on the ball and has the potential to be a star for a long time at Old Trafford.
“As soon as I walked through the door at United, I was told how special a player Harry would become.”
However, it was not all high praise, as Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson admits to having reservations about Maguire at the highest level, telling the Daily Star “he’s not in Virgil Van Dijk’s class,” while adding he was likely to “get caught out for pace. He’s not the quickest.”
But one thing that has happened since Maguire made his high profile switch is that United’s Premier League odds have shortened considerably.
According to the football tips on Betfair page, United are now preferred to both Chelsea and Arsenal to qualify for next season’s Champions League, while also closing the gap on Tottenham. Manchester City and Liverpool, however, remain well ahead of the chasing pack.
The full impact of Harry Maguire will not be known for some time but he will face regular comparisons with these four Premier League-winning central defenders at United, in the months and years ahead.
Spent eight years at Old Trafford between 2006 and 2014, winning five league titles and one Champions League. He’s a rugged no-nonsense centre back who spent his last four years at the club as skipper.
Moved to Manchester from Leeds in 2002 and remained in a red shirt for a dozen years. Together with Vidic, he formed arguably United’s best central defensive partnership of the past 50 to 60 years. The former England defender was just as good on the ground as he was in the air, and probably bears more resemblance to Maguire than any other recent United centre-back.
Part of United’s treble-winning side of 1999 and, in his three seasons at Old Trafford, he collected a Premier League winners’ medal every year. The Dutchman left for Italian club Lazio in 2001, with manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitting many years later that selling Stam was one of the biggest regrets of his career.
Although the current Newcastle boss was not technically as gifted as Vidic, Ferdinand or Stam, his influence was probably far greater. He formed a strong partnership with Gary Pallister and was the United skipper when they completed the league and cup double in 1994. He scored more than 30 goals for United in league games alone, including a famous brace against Sheffield Wednesday in April 1993. Stayed at the club for nine years.