Harry Maguire

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‘We need to make Old Trafford a fortress’ vows Maguire

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Harry Maguire‘s first home match at Old Trafford was tremendous, even if the center back didn’t nab a goal to top it off.

His teammates took care of that, with Marcus Rashford scoring twice to go with Anthony Martial and Daniel James tallies in a 4-0 demolition of Chelsea on Sunday.

[ MORE: Man Utd pummels Chelsea ]

Maguire and right back Aaron Wan-Bissaka made the right side of United’s defense a tough pill to swallow, and teamed up with David De Gea and the goal posts to keep up with a strong first half from Chelsea.

The second half was all United. From the BBC:

“It is the first game at Old Trafford so I think there were nerves. We gave the ball away in dangerous areas. We moved it nicely second half and our front three are so dangerous on the break.

“We knew there were only two clean sheets last year here. We need to make it a fortress. I felt good. I’ve only had three or four days with the lads. I am going to get fitter and better.”

It hardly gets easier for United, who will next Wolves at the Molineux on Aug. 19.

Top 15 deals from Premier League transfer window

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Deals? Yeah, friends, there were a lot of deals.

The Premier League’s summer transfer window closed on Thursday, but not until a wide array of deals came through the door.

More than half of the Premier League’s teams broke transfer records in 2019. Half! Arsenal, Brighton, Newcastle, Watford, Spurs, West Ham, Wolves, Leicester City, and Aston Villa.

[ MORE: Complete list of PL transfers ]

But what were the best ones, at least in our opinions? Let’s tick some people off.

First off, we’re going to exclude two signings because they were loan deals sorted into permanent moves. Leicester City’s addition of Youri Tielemans would’ve just edged Wolves’ buy of Raul Jimenez.

15. Aaron Mooy, Brighton and Hove Albion (loan) — A workhorse for the center of the park who may just sort out the Seagulls attacking players.

14. Phil Jagielka, Sheffield United — Coming home with a wealth of Premier League knowledge is a nice nod.

13. Tom Heaton, Aston Villa — As good as the Villans may be for a promoted team, they’ll need a veteran boss between the sticks and Heaton fits the bill.

12. Danny Drinkwater, Burnley (loan) — Sean Dyche‘s men are going to be up against it this year, and Drinkwater has a chance to reclaim his England momentum.

11. Moise Kean, Everton — The chance that Kean is Everton’s striker for the next 3-5 years just moves him ahead of the Alex Iwobi purchase.

10. Giovani Lo Celso, Tottenham Hotspur (loan) — Lo Celso isn’t just a potential star; He gives Spurs valuable depth in all competitions.

9. Sebastien Haller, West Ham United — Possibly the answer to West Ham’s long search for a center piece center forward.

8. Joelinton, Newcastle United — A major statement from the beleaguered owner of a downtrodden former power.

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7. Ismaila Sarr, Watford — The sort of attacker who can take a team from midtable to a Top Six discussion.

6. Rodri, Man City — A monumental need met on the hopeful path to a 3-peat.

5. Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal — The number of players involved in more Ligue 1 goals last season? Just one. Kylian Mbappe.

4. Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester United — Not just the answer for a short-term question, but possibly the club’s next anchor right back.

3. Tanguy Ndombele, Tottenham Hotspur — Should give Spurs a reliable answer to its center of the park question.

2. Harry Maguire, Manchester United — The cost was outrageous, but United needed to make this move a full year earlier (though perhaps that would’ve saved Jose Mourinho).

  1. Joao Cancelo, Man City — This may seem nuts. But you’ll see.

Analyzing Manchester United’s offseason with under 48 hours to go

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There is certain unease about Manchester United, whose fortunes have dipped wildly after a remarkable 20-year run as one of the best sides in the world.

The Red Devils’ have maintained their status as one of the biggest clubs in the world, but have finished 7th, 4th, 5th, 6th, 2nd, and 6th in the six seasons since it completed a run of 13 Premier League titles in 21 years.

[ MORE: Manchester United season preview ]

At this point, it seems that United chairman Ed Woodward is more or less going all-in on the idea that his most recent firing, Jose Mourinho, was the problem and not the club he assembled for the Portuguese veteran, while also heeding Mourinho’s advice that the team badly needed to address the defense.

New boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s credentials going into the new season are three:

  1. He immediately led United on a 12-match unbeaten run against a lot of PL clubs he was supposed to beat, and Spurs.
  2. He engineered an unlikely comeback against Neymar-less PSG in the Champions League to bring some magic to Old Trafford.
  3. He’s not Jose Mourinho.

United has spent big on Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, two of the best in England at their respective positions, and also picked up young winger Daniel James from Swansea City.

Gone are Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia, a far cry from the expected departures when the window began earlier this summer.

The Red Devils have the talent to contend for a place in the Top Four, but they’ll need a lot of things to go their way including the continued development of young players. It would be a boon for Romelu Lukaku to remain at the club in the hopes of an expected bounce back season, but it seems that United believes Marcus Rashford will take even bigger strides after a pair of 13-goal seasons at Old Trafford.

They’ll need that, as well as continued growth from Scott McTominay and Diogo Dalot (On the flip side, Alexis Sanchez turning back the hands of time sure would be nice).

There are two days left in the transfer window, one which as it stands has been a decent success. That could of course change if Pogba is sold, or if Lukaku lands them a haul such as the rumored Mario Mandzukic and Blaise Matuidi switch.

If not, was their offseason enough? You’d have to say probably not, or only if Paul Pogba asserts himself as one of the best midfielders in the world over 38 matches, seizing the chance to prove his doubters wrong.

And if the season does not deliver, then it might be the final straw for Woodward.

Manchester United officially signs Harry Maguire

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One of the longest-running transfer sagas of the summer has officially come to an end as Manchester United confirmed the signing of Leicester City defender on a world record transfer fee that makes the England international the most expensive defender in the game.

The 26-year-old signed a six-year contract with the Red Devils with an option for a seventh year, the club confirmed, meaning he is tied to the club through the summer of 2026.

“Harry is one of the best center-backs in the game today and I am delighted that we have secured his signature,” said Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the official team release. “He is a great reader of the game and has a strong presence on the pitch with the ability to remain calm under pressure – coupled with his composure on the ball and a huge presence in both boxes – I can see why he will fit well into this group both on and off the pitch. He has a great personality and is a fantastic addition to this club.”

While the club did not confirm the transfer fee, most media reports – including the BBC and The Guardian – claim that Maguire cost Manchester United in the vicinity of $97 million, eclipsing the $91 million Liverpool paid for Virgil Van Dijk and therefore making Maguire the most expensive defender in world football. That represents a massive profit for Leicester City on the $20.6 million Leicester City spent to bring Maguire in from Hull City two years ago.

While at the King Power Stadium, Maguire 76 appearances, scoring five goals and helping the Foxes to a pair of ninth-placed finishes. He also broke into the England squad and became a regular in the starting lineup, owning 20 caps and playing nearly every minute of the team’s run to the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup.

Welcome to unruly expectations, Harry Maguire

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It’s going to be challenging and it’s foolish to expect anything different, but comparing Harry Maguire‘s first full season as world record defender to Virgil Van Dijk is a tough way to go about evaluating the former Leicester City man’s gigantic move to Manchester United.

First and foremost, Van Dijk was the missing piece of Jurgen Klopp‘s master plan and turned a very good team into an elite one.

Maguire is just one step back, albeit a $103 million one, for a wobbly Manchester United who could’ve really used this player back when Jose Mourinho specifically wanted him for his system.

Statistically, there are a few others difficult aspects of this comparison thanks to Van Dijk engineering his move during the January window and playing a half-season with Saints before going to Anfield.

Let’s just choose their final full seasons with their previous Premier League employers (even if that is flawed thanks to a long-term injury for Van Dijk).

Maguire is 26, and will be moving to United at the same age that Van Dijk split St. Mary’s for Anfield.

Both players were instantly set to become the defensive centerpieces for their new sides, and Van Dijk had better tackles and interception numbers before the move, Maguire’s passing numbers were superior.

Van Dijk then saw his touches explode on a better team, and you have to remember we’re comparing Maguire to a player who became a Ballon d’Or candidate upon joining his new team. It’s unfair to expect the numbers to be close at this point.

Maguire is one of the better long ball playing center backs in the game, and his passing numbers should rival Van Dijk’s once he settles into his new digs.

But he’s also going to have gigantic expectations hoisted upon him, especially considering he was the 14th ranked center back in the Premier League (min. 15 appearances) last season, not too far ahead of partner Jonny Evans. For comparison, Van Dijk and Joel Matip were one and two. You can imagine which one is pulling up the other in each case.

What Maguire represents, however, is Red Devils chairman Ed Woodward acknowledging that he had been negligent at the back, failing to sign proven Premier League commodities to play in front of David De Gea.

And Maguire will give Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Luke Shaw the freedom to maraud — something Maguire doesn’t hate doing from time-to-time — and give larger measures of confidence to the midfielders in front of him.

The prices of the transfer market are now insane and a new normal. Gone are the days when $10 million could land a big club a big player, as the Premier League’s money allow teams like Leicester City to play hardball.

Finally, perhaps it’s wrong to compare the two players given that Maguire’s fee is subject to the English player tax, which isn’t a real thing but also the reason we’ve seen nutty fees for any player who brings significant Three Lions experience or hope (See: Barkley, Ross and Drinkwater, Danny).