As the center-back nears a deal to West Ham, Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has warned Harry Maguire must “prove” he is deserving of a starting berth.
Last season, Maguire was benched by Ten Hag, who preferred Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez as his starting center-back partnership. The England defender wasn’t even next in line, with Victor Lindelof and Luke Shaw getting minutes ahead of him, and his summer went from bad to worse as he lost the club leadership.
Ten Hag has stated that he requires every member of his squad, and has challenged Maguire to compete for a starting berth if he has the confidence to do so. However, with no indication from the manager that his first-choice partnership has changed, Maguire’s move to the London Stadium might be finalized this week.
“For Harry, he has to fight for his place,” Ten Hag said ahead of the encounter against Wolves on Monday. “He has the potential to be a world-class center-back; he’s the best for England, so why shouldn’t he be the best for us?”
“But he must prove it.” When he is not confident enough to battle, he must go; he must make the decision. But I’m content with him.
“We don’t have an 11-man squad.” Last year established that we need all of the players, so you need high-level players who aren’t necessarily starting but might be, so there’s internal competition and everyone has to battle for their spot.
United and Wolves are the last two sides to kick off their Premier League seasons, and Ten Hag’s matchday selection could reveal more about Maguire’s future. “For many players, that counts; if they’re good, they’ll get their games,” the manager continued. “But no one can play all the games, so you have to figure out who the best team is.”
“Every position in the squad is now doubled, and every player has a chance to fight for his spot.” Then you must demonstrate that your contribution is the finest team performance. It is up to the players whether they have more or less gaming time.”
Ten Hag’s comments come as The Telegraph reported that West Ham are still ‘confident’ of completing a deal for Maguire. A sum has already been agreed upon, expected to be in the region of £30 million, but the issue of personal terms remains, with Maguire previously dubious that the London Stadium was the appropriate destination for him.