Finally, after one of the most protracted transfers of this summer transfer season, Manchester United have got their man.
Harry Maguire is a Red Devil. The manager wanted him badly. Fans were vocal about their displeasure when the deal was delayed. But the deal, making the former Hull City centre-half the most expensive defender in the world, is now done.
Yet the question tugging tenaciously at the rear of many’s consciousness is this: is Maguire truly worth 80 million bucks?
It’s not that hard to tell. In a world where Wan-Bissaka cost more than it took Real Madrid to take Fabio Cannavaro to the Santiago Bernabeu, and where a one-season wonder like Nicolas Pepe dug a bigger hole in Arsenal’s purse than Zinedine Zidane dug in Juventus’ to secure a ‘dream’ move to Real Madrid, Harry Maguire is just priced right.
He’s not the best defender in the world. Heck, he’s not even the best defender in the Premier League. But Manchester United get what Manchester United want and whatever cost is just about the right price.
However, more important than how much the 26-year-old costs is what he brings to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. And that, unarguably, is a whole lot.
The mere fact that Pep Guardiola, the best manager around by a hundred miles, was at one point interested in taking the big defender to the Etihad Stadium speaks of how highly the former Leicester City strongman is rated.
He’s a leader and a tough customer for strikers. When others around him appear to be losing their heads, he’s shown time and again that he’s got the presence of mind to retain his.
Man United, since the days of Ferdinand-Vidic have yearned for someone with the attributes of the England international to fill the glaring gaps in the middle of the defence. Maguire can fill those holes with a bit more in the tank to spare.
He’s adept at playing the ball from the back with as much ease as he needs to carry the ball to the midfield himself. He rarely gets beaten in the air and what he lacks in pace he makes up for it with top-notch defensive positioning. The former Wigan centre-back may have been quite expensive but he will straight-away be indispensable.
The manager’s immediate task may not be easy but it’s simple: build the defence around the costliest defender in history.
The pieces already seem to be in place.
In goal is one of the world’s safest pair of hands. For 55 million pounds – an insane figure for a fullback – Wan-Bissaka has been brought in from Crystal Palace to solidify the right-side of the defence.
Luke Shaw, United’s Player of the Year last term, is growing into his role on the opposite flank.
Where the puzzle lies is in he who partners the newest acquisition at the heart of Manchester United’s defence.
Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, judging by their inconsistent displays in recent years have ruled themselves out. If injury permits him, Bailly should get his chance to impress beside Harry Maguire.
But the man who has the potential to match Maguire quality performance for quality performance is Victor Lindelof.
Together, they can help restore the Red Devils to the heady glory days.
Without the England international, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team has shown impressive defensive improvements in all their preseason friendlies.
With Harry Maguire, they are set to do better than last season’s woeful record and may even do better than any United side has done since Sir Alex Ferguson departed.
No one then would be able to question Solskjaer’s ability or Maguire’s price and all would be well once again at the Theatre of Dreams.