Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: Harry Maguire 'One of the Best Centre-Backs in the Game'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2019

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - JULY 27:  Harry Maguire of Leicester looks on during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Stoke City and Leicester City at the Bet365 Stadium on July 27, 2019 in Stoke on Trent, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed the club's new defender Harry Maguire as "one of the best centre-backs in the game."

The Red Devils announced the signing of the Leicester City man on Monday, with United reported to have paid around £80 million for the England international.

It's a fee that sees Maguire become the most expensive defender in the history of the game, eclipsing the £75 million Liverpool shelled out on Virgil van Dijk in 2018.

Speaking after the signing was done, the United boss said he was pleased to have got the defender secured at last, per Samuel Luckhurst of the Manchester Evening News:

"Harry is one of the best centre-backs in the game today, and I am delighted we have secured his signature.

"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 he will fit well into this group both on and off the pitch.

"He has a great personality and is a fantastic addition to the club. I would like to welcome Harry to Manchester United, and we are looking forward to working with him as we prepare for the new season."

Maguire posted the following messages on social media, saying he was happy to be moving to Old Trafford but sad to be leaving the King Power Stadium:

Harry Maguire @HarryMaguire93

Thanks to everyone who has supported me and played a part in my career. I’m proud and honoured to join @ManUtd. What an incredible football journey it’s been so far ⚽ https://t.co/yVaTnBBHv6

Harry Maguire @HarryMaguire93

Massive thank you to @lcfc for your brilliant support and amazing memories. We’ve been through many highs and some real lows but we stuck together. I wish you all the best in the future and I’m sure with a great owner you will keep rising as a club. 💙🦊 #TheBoss #ThankYou https://t.co/1bALmvycOd

The amount paid by United for the defender means he's a more costly player than some iconic names in the game:

B/R Football @brfootball

Most expensive defender ever. 💰 https://t.co/Tcj2k9ZbZo

Even so, it's clear Solskjaer has huge faith in Maguire, and centre-back is an area that United needed to improve.

Victor Lindelof enjoyed a decent season for the Red Devils, but the rest of the team's central defenders endured a torrid campaign in 2018-19 due to loss of form or fitness issues. Maguire should alleviate those concerns, as he's durable and dependable.

While there have been some raised eyebrows regarding the transfer fee, Henry Winter of The Times said he thinks Maguire will turn out to be a fine signing for United:

Henry Winter @henrywinter

Good business all round. #mufc get a future captain, good defender (only issue is pace), decent distribution, goal threat, strong character. #lcfc get a record fee. And Maguire’s behaved classily throughout. https://t.co/wQ2PNHvt0z

According to Simon Stone of BBC Sport, Solskjaer's determination to sign Maguire was key in the Red Devils paying such a massive amount:

Simon Stone @sistoney67

On Maguire. Fee high but OGS felt combination of ability on ball + leadership was what he needed. As recently as three weeks ago, Man Utd had other options but reached point where Maguire was only one + by middle of this week were confident. Leicester will presumably go for Dunk.

United will now have a big decision to make on whether Maguire makes his debut for the club in the team's Premier League opener. It'd be a high-profile first appearance for the player if he was selected, as the Red Devils will face Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Given the manner in which Maguire has taken so many challenges in his stride over the past couple of years, you'd back him to excel in such circumstances. It would also be a shock if he didn't make a major positive difference to United's defensive play this season.