Bengaluru, Aug 7: Manchester United's latest signing Harry Maguire became the most expensive defender in world football when he arrived at Old Trafford this week for a whopping £80 million.
It's a transfer fee that exceeds the £75 million paid by Liverpool for Virgil van Dijk last season. It was earlier understood that United could move away from their preferred target due to such an enormous fee, however, Solskjaer stuck to his demand and finally forced Woodward to sanction a deal.
Now questions have come up as to whether the 26-year-old is worth such a fee in recent days. We now put together three reasons why the Englishman could be worth every penny at Old Trafford.
1. Aerial Presence
Manchester United conceded 54 goals in the Premier League last season, a tally bettered by the likes of Newcastle United, Wolves and notably, Leicester City. A good part of those goals came from either set-piece situation or long ball put towards their box. Lindelof although was an impressive presence in the box but still found it difficult aerially.
Maguire is regarded as one of the best players in aerial ability right now in the league and with his aerial prowess, he could be a perfect solution for Solskjaer to solve his defensive woes. The numbers bear out this assessment. He is one of only eight defenders to have won over 300 aerial duels during this time. That prowess in the air also proffers him a real threat from set-pieces in the oppositions 18-yard box. The English international has netted seven goals across the three previous seasons for the Foxes, it is as many goals as Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof combined in that same period.
2. Ball playing ability
Last six months of Solskajer's tenure has already proved that the Norway manager wants his team to play out from back and Maguire with his composure on the ball has allowed him to become the division's most prolific ball-carriers in terms of centre-back.
Last season, Victor Lindelof was the only ball-playing centre back available to Ole, which forced him to deploy a deeper line of defence but Maguire's ability on the ball will now provide United with a massive boost in terms of technicality. In the 18/19 PL season (all numbers according to WyScout), Maguire averaged 52.91 passes a game, completing 88.9%.
Chris Smalling had 34.03 (88.3%), Phil Jones had 47.03 (94.5%) and Victor Lindelöf had 45.03 (91.6%). Not only does Maguire pass more, but his ability to go along with his passes is pretty incredible compared to his new teammates. He averaged 6.53 attempts, completing 69.3%, while Lindelöf had 3.32 (52%), Smalling 2.75 (40%) and Jones 1.33 (45%). Passing variety is the key.
3. Leadership Quality
Solskjaer was concerned about the character of his team as they suffered a sudden wobble in the last half of the season. Maguire has been a leader within the Leicester back line who demonstrated strong communication skills whilst also proving courageous in key moments. Van Dijk's arrival at Liverpool not only improved the side due to his defensive ability but also for his leadership skills. United's backline also needed a character who can turn up and encourage the defensive unit and at the moment no one could have been a better candidate than him.