Harry Maguire will come up against one of Manchester United’s transfer targets when England take on Switzerland at Wembley on Saturday, setting up a potential nightmare scenario
International friendlies never mean anything, right? Well, this Saturday night could be another story for Harry Maguire.
The Manchester United the captain is suffering the hardest spell of his Old Trafford career so far, go to England New obligations out of a own goal and was excluded from Champions League in the past two weeks. A tumultuous season has made the 28-year-old’s future with the Red Devils threatened, with More and more questions are being raised about his long-term suitability in the morning.
Contrary to his performances at club level, Maguire has often taken England seriously, regularly scoring goals – like Roy Keane’s favourite knee slide ceremony – and importantly, match with By Gareth Southgate Three-man defense system. However, even the comfort of wearing three lions on his shirt may not improve his predicament this weekend.
With a British welcome Switzerland arrives at Wembley on Saturday, the £80m man will face the ace who will replace him in United’s backline: Manuel Akanji. The Borussia Dortmund The centre-back has recently been linked with a move to Old Trafford and with Raphael Varane’s rest assured at Old Trafford, that will be Maguire’s position if Akanji joins.
The Red Devils are said to be keen on signing the Swiss defender, who is on a farewell tour of Dortmund in the last two months of the season. With his contract set to expire in less than 18 months and no new deal in the future, Bundesliga The giants want some cash for the 26-year-old and United’s interim manager Ralf Rangnick supposed to be a fan.
Akanji has been a Dortmund player since January 2018, with the highly-rated prospect of joining from his homeland. Basel for 20 million pounds. It was the club’s second-highest achievement during that term, a vote of confidence on his elite qualifications. When it was appropriate, Akanji lived up to his price tag by becoming an ordinary person under four different managers.
And the then youngster’s adaptation to German football was helped by forging a friendship with Jadon Sancho, is now the Reds following his own departure last summer – the third BVB star United have signed in the past nine years. But it could soon be four due to Dortmund’s bid to refresh their backline in the summer.
Commission Marco Rose To bring them back to title competition, the club agreed to bring in Niklas Sule as his contract with the rivals Bayern Munich end of June. Add to that their pursuit of Freiburg sensation Nico Schlotterbeck, who could cost as little as £16.8m, and it looks like plans for post-Akanji are underway.
It won’t be a shock for the Switzerland international to keep an eye on his next move, with BVB failing to meet Akanji’s demands for an annual salary of 12 million euros. Dortmund is known for keeping a rigid salary structure to avoid financial mismanagement, and could possibly switch to his “dream” club.
“I have a big dream, to go as far as possible in football,” he declared in an interview with NZZ after signing for BVB. “Since my childhood days, Manchester United has been my favorite club. I want to play there someday. But for now, that’s not a problem. I’m happy at Dortmund and trying to be the best he can be off the pitch.”
Rangnick has seen Akanji’s pedigree on display while in Germany and although the famous coach’s mentorship role – which begins at the end of the season – has been described as ‘non-limb’, the defining achievement His top talents cannot be overlooked by the Old Trafford chiefs, who have failed in their recruitment policies in recent years.
His ability to dribble with both feet mirrors that of Maguire, who has a similar voice and likes to control the defence. For further comparison between the duo, the 6ft 3in tall Reds captain has the advantage in air and availability, while age and speed are definitely on the Akanji side, something of a centre-back. Rio Ferdinand believes that United need to play in a modern way.
“For all the good traits [Maguire has in his game, [pace] is a major weakness and that is fundamental to all top teams; to be able to play one-on-one halfway,” admits Ferdinand on his YouTube channel, Vibe with Five. “So I think for Maguire, in the long run – unless he can find that extra speed – it’s going to be very difficult for him.”
And many can attest to Akanji’s speed, with the former Dortmund coach Peter Stoger noted his pace after deploying him in an unfamiliar position for their 4-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen. “Obviously Manuel is a good ball player with real speed,” Stoger asserted after the game. “We knew he could play left-back, and he did not disappoint.”
That being said, increased competition could spur Maguire to improve, just as Alex Telles’ arrival in 2020 has prompted By Luke Shaw best season in Manchester. It is also a bold call for a new coach to remove the club’s captain from the starting line-up, with Varane yet to prove his fitness consistently.
And he has the backing of Southgate, who have ‘no doubt’ selected him for England’s friendly double this month, with Ivory Coast will arrive next Tuesday. “I don’t think we would have thought of not picking Harry Maguire for this squad,” the Three Lions boss explained. “He was a big part of the XI that started bringing us to World Cup semi-finals and one Euro final. I have no doubt that he is one of our best centre-backs. “
Join the debate! Should Man Utd replace Maguire with Akanji? Give us your verdict here.
So when the referee blows his whistle at Wembley on Saturday, Maguire could be stared into the eyes of a future team-mate – and ultimately a substitute. Supporters of the Red Devils will be interested in monitoring and measuring Akanji’s ability compared to some Premier League of best striker.
90 minutes will be an audition for the Swiss No 5, it is rare to be able to test yourself against a player of that caliber during four disappointing campaigns for a slowly declining Dortmund. If he doesn’t watch cricket, like last weekend, Rangnick will probably also turn on the TV and judge his performance against Harry Kane and copper.
But if Maguire – facing competition from Ben White and Marc Guehi in the England squad – could mark Saturday as the first of many solid performances ahead of United’s nine finals. Premier League game, it could shift his club’s attention to other areas of the transfer market and silence his critics.