Manchester United would do well to listen to some outside voices in order to improve their under-par recruitment, based on their many failures in the transfer market over the last decade.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand has issued the latest verdict on the club, claiming that captain Harry Maguire’s career at Old Trafford is in jeopardy.
Maguire’s lack of pace, according to Ferdinand, jeopardises his long-term career, as the system that interim manager Ralf Rangnick is seeking to implement calls for men with pace to play in a high defensive line.
While Rangnick may not be in charge of Maguire after May, his replacement is expected to urge that the 63-year-back old’s line maintain high, employing a combination of speed and awareness to recoup any ground lost behind them.
However, based on the club’s most recent transfer activity, the club is aware of the disconnect between player and system.
United is said to have made a bid for Manuel Akanji, a player who is much more aligned with Rangnick’s and his contemporaries’ values.
The Borussia Dortmund centre-back, like Three Lions stalwart Maguire, is not a familiar name in England, but since his move from Basel in 2018, he has established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s most highly rated defenders.
Old Trafford officials are apparently trying to wrest Akanji from Signal Iduna Park this summer, with the Switzerland international valued at approximately £26 million.
While Maguire and Akanji both have outstanding ball-playing skills with either foot, are good communicators, and have contracts with their respective clubs until 2023, that’s where the similarities end.
When it comes to aerial duels, the 6ft 1in Swiss pales in comparison to Maguire’s physical strength, but he is far faster and allows Marco Rose’s side to operate with the kind of high line Ferdinand mentioned.
While Rose is far down the list of managers being considered by United to replace Rangnick, the Dortmund manager shares the same mindset as the famed German coach – just ask another Marco, this time from BVB, Reus.
During preseason, Reus noted, “He’s trying to teach us that he wants us to press high and enthusiastically, as well as play with a high defensive line so that we can get to the opponent goal faster.”
“To score, you must be swift on your feet and aim to play the ball behind the opposition’s back line as quickly as possible.” These are the factors that will aid our progress.
“He [Rose] is extremely careful, and he values even the tiniest of things.” He’s also a really nice man.”
And throughout his four-year tenure, Akanji has earned glowing reviews, making him an excellent candidate for such a system.
Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc stated, “Whenever Manuel plays, it does us the world of good.” “He exudes self-assurance and attempts to rally the defence.”
Meanwhile, ex-BVB manager Peter Stoger heaped praise on him after he deputised at left-back in a 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen alongside a certain Jadon Sancho, who is thought to be a close buddy of Akanji’s.
“It’s apparent that Manuel is a really excellent footballer with a lot of pace,” Stoger said after the game. “We knew he had the ability to play left-back, and he didn’t let us down.”
While Maguire remains an important figure for Rangnick, the impending Red Devils overhaul, as Ferdinand just revealed on his YouTube channel, Vibe with Five, might put him in jeopardy.
“For all of his outstanding qualities, [speed] is a significant weakness in his game, and that is a foundation of all of the elite teams; to be able to play one-on-one on the halfway line,” the former United hero revealed.
“So, I think it’ll be difficult for Maguire in the long run until he can find that extra yard of speed.”
Maguire is already having a difficult time ahead of Sunday’s Manchester Derby, but if he has to compete with Akanji for a starting spot alongside Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane, things will only get more difficult.