Manchester United captain Harry Maguire could be concerned for his place in the starting XI next season as the club continue to be linked with signing centre-backs, according to journalist Pete O’Rourke.
The Red Devils’ squad looks set for a major overhaul this summer, and one area that is likely to be strengthened is the heart of the defence.
Which central defenders have Man United been linked with?
One name that keeps cropping up is Jurrien Timber. The 20-year-old has worked under United’s new manager Erik ten Hag for the last two seasons at Ajax after making the step up from the youth team, and the pair could be reunited at Old Trafford. According to The Sun, a deal for the youngster is close to being agreed.
Meanwhile, United are also interested in Villarreal’s Pau Torres, with Spanish radio station Cadena Ser reporting that his representatives are due to travel to England shortly to discuss terms with the Premier League outfit.
Kalidou Koulibaly has emerged as a potential option as well, as reported by Area Napoli, with the Senegalese defender about to enter the final year of his contract in Naples.
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What has O’Rourke said about Maguire?
O’Rourke has acknowledged that Maguire was heavily criticised this season for his displays at the back, and he believes the 42-cap international may be fretting over his future due to the transfer rumours swirling around Old Trafford right now.
Speaking about Maguire to GIVEMESPORT, O’Rourke said: “I’m sure he won’t be enjoying the fact that Manchester United are being linked with other central defenders. He’s obviously come under a lot of scrutiny this season for his performances, and has come in for a lot of flak from fans and pundits alike.
“It’s a big summer ahead for Harry Maguire. He’ll be hoping he can impress ten Hag when he arrives for pre-season training, and stake a claim to keep his place in this United team.”
Will Maguire be a starter for Man United next term?
Ten Hag spoke positively about Maguire in his opening press conference on Monday, labelling the 29-year-old a “great player“, but he refused to confirm whether he will continue as captain in 2022/23.
This indicates that he may have some reservations about the £190,000-a-week star, and ESPN has claimed Maguire is not guaranteed a starting berth next term due to his lack of pace, with ten Hag likely to want to play a high defensive line as he looks to implement his high-intensity press at the club.
If United do bring in a new centre-back this summer, they will probably go straight into the starting line-up, leaving Maguire to battle with the likes of Raphael Varane and Victor Lindelof for his place in the side.
Keeping that duo behind him in the pecking order won’t be easy, and if Maguire doesn’t improve his standards from the past nine months, he could be spending plenty of time on the bench next season.