Harry Maguire will be the subject of much scrutiny in the next couple of weeks as he heads off to international duty with England. The Manchester United defender has endured a season to forget so far, but he’ll be hoping a spell with Gareth Southgate’s squad can alleviate some of the pressure on him.
England will play friendlies against both Switzerland and Ivory Coast over the next seven days, with Maguire likely to feature in at least one if not both matches. “I don’t think it ever crossed our minds not to select Harry Maguire for this squad,” explained Southgate when questioned about his selection of him. “He’s been a key part of the starting XI that got us to a World Cup semi-final and a Euros final. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s one of our best centre-backs.”
While Southgate’s support for Maguire remains unwavering, back at United, fans who have watched him week in week out this season are losing patience. Not just that, but one report claims the 29-year-old could be shown the exit this summer should the new manager – whoever that may be – not be impressed by the defender. With that in mind, below are three names who could well end up replacing him should he depart.
READ MORE: Manchester United might already know which youngster deserves a debut next
Lisandro Martinez – 24 – Ajax
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag is one of the favorites to take over at Old Trafford in the summer, and if he did, it seems inevitable that he’d bring at least one player from his excellent Ajax squad with him.
If he did, many United fans would hope that would be Martinez. Few would argue that the Argentine hasn’t been the best defender in the Eredivisie this season, however, his performances in Europe have also impressed too.
He’s left-footed and plays most often on the left in the middle of Ajax’s defence. This is the same position Maguire plays for United. Martinez isn’t as tall as Maguire, standing at just 5ft 10in, however, he’s got an impressive leap making him a real asset in the air. This is a point captured by his aerial duel success rate of 64 per cent.
Beyond this, Martinez exhibits great intelligence and anticipation, often able to make defending dangerous opposition attacks look simple.
Presnel Kimpembe – 26 – Paris Saint-Germain
Another manager United are being heavily tipped to pursue is PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino. He was impressed during his time in the Premier League with Southampton and Tottenham, and the manner of PSG’s recent disappointing Champions League exit could mean both he and the Paris-based club may opt to go their separate ways in the summer.
Like is the case with Ten Hag, United fans would hope he could bring one or two big names with him, and right at the top of their list would be Kimpembe. The French World Cup winner ticks many boxes from a United perspective. He’s athletic and covers distances really well, but he is also strong in duels both in the air and on the floor.
Similarly to Martinez, he’s left-footed which better aids him playing in a left centre-back role. Especially in his possession and his ability with the ball at his feet is one of his more attractive qualities about him. Pochettino can rely on the 6ft defender heavily in build-up play, and again that’s not something we’ve been able to say much about Maguire at Old Trafford this season.
Fikayo Tomori – 24 – AC Milan
Tomori never really got his chance at Chelsea, making just 17 appearances across a five-year spell. But it was in loan moves to the likes of Derby and then AC Milan where he was able to show his best form of him.
He was impressed so much on loan in Milan last season that the Italian giants triggered the £25million clause in his contract to make the switch permanent. He’s since gone from strength to strength at the San Siro and was rewarded with his first England call-up earlier in the season.
Tomori was unlucky to miss out on a call up this month, but his form this season means that he’ll have every chance of making it onto the plane to Qatar in November, particularly given the different options he’d bring to Southgate’s squad.
Beyond being a solid defender, one of his standout traits is his pace, and this is something Maguire lacks. That’s why United have often been punished when playing a high defensive line. No matter which new manager comes in this summer, they’re almost certain to want to implement tactics that will involve some form of a high defensive line, and Tomori could help with that.
Although he only joined Milan permanently in the summer, a chance to come back to the Premier League, especially with one eye on becoming a regular in the England set-up, could be hugely enticing for the 24-year-old.
Sign up to our United newsletter so you never miss an update from Old Trafford this season.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.