Rio Ferdinand has poured doubt on the long-term future of Harry Maguire at Manchester United as he lacks a key ingredient crucial to a modern defender.
Maguire, 28, is currently in his third season at Old Trafford having moved from Leicester in the summer of 2019. The Red Devils paid in the region of £80m for the Sheffield-born ace. And they have got their money’s worth, with the former Hull City stopper playing every minute of United’s 2019-2020 league campaign.
He started 34 times in the top flight last term and has been seen on 22 occasions in 2021-2022. But his struggles at times this season have mirrored those of the team’s.
Ralf Rangnick’s side may sit fourth in the Premier League standings. But they have laboured to just 13 wins from 27 games and are struggling for a top-four finish.
Maguire’s recent displays have been scrutinised by pundits. And he was dropped to the bench as United drew 0-0 with struggling Watford on Saturday.
Next up is the Manchester derby on Saturday, as United travel to the Etihad Stadium. It remains to be seen if Rangnick starts Maguire or Victor Lindelof.
And for Ferdinand, there are many questions to be answered regarding the England centre-back.
“Is Maguire gonna enable you to win the league, that’s the question,” he said on Vibe with Five, per The Mirror. “Because the thing about someone like Ralf and all the top teams now, when they play now, they play on the front foot. They are aggressive and wanna win the ball high.
“So, therefore, you need defenders who can defend on the halfway line. One-v-one, two-v-two – or three against two if you need that security.”
Maguire negatives outweigh positives for Ferdinand
Ferdinand knows a thing or two about defending, having graced the Old Trafford rearguard for many years. And he is unsure whether Maguire has the ability to operate how his manager would like.
“If you can play two-v-two one-v-one or on the halfway line, that enables you to have more bodies in the opponent’s half of the pitch. Hence why teams do that to win the ball early and be closer to the opposition’s goal to score goals,” he added.
“Liverpool do it tremendously well, City do it really, really well as well, Bayern [Munich] do it; three of the best teams on the planet. Everyone’s going that way of playing football, Ralf Rangnick’s style of football is like that.
“Can Maguire do that, can you do that with Maguire? That’s my problem, that’s my issue.”
Maguire has been praised for his tactical awareness and ability on the ball. However, Ferdinand has questioned whether that is now enough for him to live with the speed of opposition strikers.
“If I’m a centre forward, if I’m one of the quick centre-forwards or quick wide players, quick attackers, I would be hanging around where Harry Maguire is,” he continued.
“For all the good traits that he has in his game, that is a big weakness in his game. And that is a fundamental of all of the top teams is to be able to play one-v-one on the halfway line.
“So, I think for Maguire, long-term – unless he can find that extra yard of pace – it’s gonna maybe be difficult for him.”