Sunday 25 August, 2019

Maguire became Solskjaer's number one target after Leicester match

Harry Maguire shields the ball from Jesse Lingard.

Harry Maguire shields the ball from Jesse Lingard.

Harry Maguire effectively became Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's number one transfer target after Manchester United faced Leicester City in February.

United boss Solskjaer says the England centre-back showed he could become the man around whom to build a revamped defence after the Red Devils' 1-0 Premier League win at the King Power Stadium last season.

Maguire, who joined for a reported £80million fee on August 5, is in line for his United debut against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Solskjaer says the 26-year-old has already had an impact on the dressing room and expects him to give his side "another dimension" - although he stopped short of comparing the player to Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk.

"I'm delighted we have got Harry in because he's going to be great for this club," Solskjaer said.

"He was always my number one target. I more or less made my mind up when we played Leicester that if it was possible to get him, we should at least try. He is so composed on the ball and he gives the team another dimension.

"He has already shown what a presence he will be and what an impact he will have in the squad. Harry is a leader, an established international, a goal threat and a very, very good defender.   

"I don't want to compare us to Liverpool or Harry to Van Dijk, but I know Harry is going to have a massive impact on us, yes."

Maguire was one of three United transfers in the close season, with Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka also moving to Old Trafford.

The arrival of Maguire and two 21-year-olds, coupled with United's use of youngsters including Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes in pre-season, highlights Solskjaer's commitment to constructing a side based on youth.

"You can call it a gamble. I am just staying true to what I believe in," he said. "I believe in this way of managing a football club.

"I am paid to manage for the club and it is not just about me getting results now to get my reputation. It is about the club going forward in the right direction.

"If we don't make these decisions now, they will have to be done in 12 months or 18 months or 24 months because at some point these kids will have to be a part of Man United. That has always been the case.

"That is the upside and downside of who you want to keep. For us, to give our kids the best chance, we decided this is the right way."

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