Manchester United head coach Erik ten Hag appears to have performed a U-turn over Harry Maguire after indicating the England international defender does still have a future at the club despite being stripped of the captaincy. The Dutchman communicated the ruthless decision during private talks between the pair last week as the 30-year-old centre-back was pushed closer towards the exit door.
United are willing to sell Maguire this summer but they are yet to receive any formal proposals besides a loan enquiry from West Ham.
But now Ten Hag has suggested he’s prepared to proceed with Maguire as part of United’s defensive cohort next season despite his previous desire to bring in another centre-back.
He said: “We respect Harry, he’s very important for this squad, for this team. And, you know, in his role as centre-back, we have four centre-backs.
“I talked about consistency and we know we can’t do it with 11 players and so I’m happy we have four very good centre-backs.”
United had been looking at a deal for Napoli’s Kim Min-jae but their failure to shift Maguire saw Bayern Munich beat them to the punch.
Exploratory talks have also been held over a move for Monaco’s Axel Disasi but United have been unable to formalise their interest due to their restricted transfer budget.
Maguire has been keen to fight for his place at Old Trafford even though it has been made abundantly clear to him that he is way down United’s defensive pecking order.
Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane will remain first choice while Victor Lindelof is also first in command from the bench following a strong finish to the 2022/23 campaign.
Bruno Fernandes has also since been appointed as United’s new captain, although Maguire has already made it public that he is fully behind whoever would be appointed as his successor.
He said on social media after being told he would no longer be United captain: “After discussions with the manager today he has informed me he is changing captain. He outlined his reasons to me and whilst I’m personally extremely disappointed, I will continue to give my all every time I wear the shirt.
“So I wanted to say a massive thank you to the Manchester United fans for all their brilliant support whilst I’ve been wearing the armband.
“Since the day I took on the role, three and half years ago, it’s been a huge privilege to lead Manchester United and one of the proudest moments of my career to date. It’s one of the greatest honours in club football. I’ve done everything I possibly could to help United be successful – on and off the field.
“I will always be grateful to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for first giving me the responsibility and I wish whoever now takes it on every success and they will have my full support. Harry.”
Other clubs including Tottenham and Newcastle have also been tentatively linked with a swoop for Maguire but neither avenue seems likely to materialise.
West Ham’s interest is concrete but the Hammers would struggle to match Maguire’s currently salary at United if they were to agree a transfer deal.
Gareth Southgate recently warned Maguire and others that he can’t keep picking them forever for England if they are not getting minutes at club level.