Harry Maguire faces being frozen out long-term at Manchester United after being ruthlessly axed by boss Erik ten Hag.
The United skipper was benched by Ten Hag for Monday’s 2-1 win over Liverpool and fears he could now be a permanent fixture on the bench. It is understood Maguire was told as early as last Thursday he would not start against Liverpool, with Ten Hag preferring Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez in central defence.
With the World Cup coming up this winter, Maguire’s United exile could ultimately impact his England chances, with boss Gareth Southgate wanting his players to be playing regularly. With eight days left before the transfer window shuts, clubs could look to exploit the uncertainty around Maguire by moving for the 29-year-old, with Chelsea having already expressed interest in him.
United’s defence was transformed with Varane and Martinez, supported by full-backs Diogo Dalot and Tyrell Malacia, with Ten Hag set to keep faith with the quartet for Saturday’s trip to Southampton. Ten Hag said he decided to ditch Maguire because he wanted more mobility and speed in his back-four, with victory over Jurgen Klopp’s side vindicating his decision.
Despite retaining Maguire as captain in the summer, Ten Hag warned the £80million defender the armband would not save him from the chop if he did not perform – and so it has proved. With Eric Bailly joining Marseille on loan, losing Maguire would leave United light in terms of cover at centre-back, but he will not be happy to remain on the bench with the World Cup on the horizon.
David De Gea’s first-choice status at United is also under threat, with Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp wanted by ten Hag. Despite De Gea impressing in the Liverpool win, after a shocker in the 4-0 loss at Brentford, Ten Hag wants a goalkeeper to rival him for the No.1 spot.
Eintracht Frankfurt keeper Trapp, 32, has been identified by Ten Hag as the ideal candidate to push, and potentially replace, De Gea between the posts. Bruno Fernandes has strongly hinted Cristiano Ronaldo will be allowed to leave United before transfer deadline day.
Like Maguire, Ronaldo was left out of United’s starting line-up for the win over Liverpool, fuelling his desire to find a new club. Fernandes, captain in the absence of Maguire, hinted he knows Ronaldo will leave United before deadline day a week on Thursday.
“I may know a thing or two, but I won’t be the one to say it,” said Fernandes. “For now he is a United player. I don’t know about his future, if he will leave or if he will not leave. It’s his decision. We have to respect what he wants to do, whatever he wants to do. If he’s going to stay, we’ll be happy about it, if he’s going to leave because he thinks it’s best for him, I’ll be personally happy for him.”
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