Manchester United confident of signing Harry Maguire before transfer deadline
Manchester United are confident of concluding a world record deal for Leicester defender Harry Maguire before the Premier League transfer deadline on Thursday.
Maguire, 26, has been omitted from the Leicester squad for their final pre-season friendly against Atalanta on Friday since he is not in the right frame of mind, and the MEN understands United are more optimistic about signing the England international.
United’s negotiations with Leicester have progressed promisingly over the last week and they are believed to have intensified their efforts after Eric Bailly suffered a knee injury in their friendly victory over Tottenham eight days ago.
Bailly has been ruled out for at least four months with a knee injury and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started with Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones as his defensive duo in the Tuesday night friendly against Kristiansund in Oslo.
United have prioritised a deal for Maguire in the final week of the Premier League window and, although Leicester are demanding in excess of £90million, United feel they could negotiate a significant up-front fee with add-ons. Maguire would command a world record fee for a defender.
The MEN revealed in July Sir Alex Ferguson wants United to sign Maguire and is baffled as to why they did not make an approach for him sooner, despite Maguire’s Nations League participation with England in June. United decided to sign a central defender at the end of June and had a £70m bid for Maguire rejected in early July.
United are believed to be open to selling Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo, should they finalise the signing of Maguire. United currently have six centre-backs and Axel Tuanzebe has been promoted to the first-team squad on a permanent basis.
Solskjaer conceded a centre half would have to make way if United recruited a new one. “Of course, there’s a limit of players,” Solskjaer said last month. “And whoever performs will be part of the team and whoever doesn’t has a fight to get back in.
“And there’s been loads of speculation but I can’t really say anything but we’ll work to find a relationship with the ones we’ve got.”
Solskjaer has settled on a new playing style of playing out from defence and Smalling’s poor distribution is widely regarded to be his biggest weakness. Former United manager Jose Mourinho half-joked with Smalling ‘With your feet, we’re for sure not playing out from the back!’ ahead of the 2017 Europa League final with Ajax.
Smalling, 29, has only played 135 minutes in pre-season and did not even figure in the wins over Inter Milan and Kristiansund. Rojo, 28, has had 165 minutes of game-time over the last month but United have tried to sell him in three of the previous four summers and want to jettison him within the next month.