Harry Maguire: Erik ten Hag says defender must prove he is top class or leave Man Utd

13 August 2023 0 By Total Football News
Inaki Williams of Athletic Bilbao and Harry Maguire of Manchester United battle for the ball during a pre-season friendly matchManchester United paid a record £80m to make Harry Maguire (right) the world's most expensive defender in 2019

Erik ten Hag says Harry Maguire would be better off leaving Manchester United if he is not confident enough to battle for a first-team spot.

The United boss is adamant he thinks Maguire can be an important part of his plans.

However, after Ten Hag took the captaincy off the 30-year-old, United then accepted a £30m bid from West Ham for him.

"He has the ability to be a top-class centre-back," said Ten Hag.

"He is the best for England so why shouldn't he be the best for us?

"But he has to prove it. When he is not confident enough to fight then he has to go, then he has to make a decision. But I'm happy with him."

It is not yet clear whether Maguire will make the move, nor if he will be involved in United's opening Premier League game against Wolves on Monday, although Ten Hag indicated he will be.

Ten Hag's team selections have suggested Maguire is behind Victor Lindelof as back up to first-choice pair Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, with Luke Shaw also playing in central defence last term.

Jonny Evans is still training with United and would be an easy replacement if Maguire did decide to move on.

Any deal for Maguire can generate more finance for Ten Hag to go back into the transfer market.

Mason Mount, Andre Onana and the currently injured Rasmus Hojlund are United's major pieces of business this summer.

They went for Hojlund's potential after deciding trying to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham would be too expensive, even if chairman Daniel Levy had been willing to sell to a Premier League rival.

Ten Hag says he is happy with the club's business so far but he notes the huge sums being spent elsewhere, with Brighton's Moises Caicedo set to join either Chelsea or Liverpool for a British record fee in excess of £110m.

"One year ago we did a benchmark and there were only five players above £60m," he said.

"Now you see all over many clubs investing high rates in their squads. The competition is very tough in the Premier League but we are happy with the squad we constructed."

Ten Hag confirmed striker Anthony Martial would be fit for the Wolves encounter after missing all United's pre-season games with a hamstring injury.

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