Football

Harry Maguire ‘tailor-made’ for Manchester United: Jonny Evans

Foxes defender sees similarities between Red Devils' new signing and van Dijk

Harry Maguire is "tailor-made" for Manchester United and could soon be as important for his new club as Virgil van Dijk is for rivals Liverpool, former teammate Jonny Evans has said.

United made Maguire the most expensive defender in world football when they signed him for £80 million (S$133.8 million) from Leicester City last week.

The fee eclipsed the previous record of £75 million that Liverpool paid Southampton for van Dijk early last year.

Evans, who came through United's youth system and spent more than a decade at Old Trafford, backed Maguire to quickly become a fan favourite at his new club, reported Reuters.

"I don't have any worries about him there," the Leicester defender told British media.

"He's tailor-made for Manchester United, it was a great move for him.

"He's a player they needed... He will be a real hit there."

Van Dijk has been a transformative presence for Liverpool since joining the Merseyside club, helping them win the Champions League last season and taking the English Premier League title race down to the wire.

Maguire, 26, made his United debut in last Sunday's 4-0 EPL victory over Chelsea and showed signs of promise with a performance that earned him the Man-of-the-Match award.

"Both are great on the ball and Harry has got explosive pace people don't see," Evans added.

"He is powerful and good in the air.

"Everyone will compare the transfer fees, but it's so difficult to judge transfer fees nowadays.

"We're all human and it is weird we get traded for money.

"In the transfer market, it's all supply and demand and things can go up and down at any moment.

"The most important thing is for him to be judged on how he plays."

TOO BIG

Former United manager David Moyes, however, judged that 1.94m Maguire was "too big", and opted against signing him during his time at Old Trafford.

He told talkSPORT: "He played against Preston North End at home in a league game and I watched him and thought he played really well, but at that time he was really big.

"You thought 'My goodness, how big is Harry going to be,' because he was a relatively young boy at that time.

"To be fair, he looks in terrific shape and he hasn't changed at all, really.

"When I went to United, we had (Nemanja) Vidic, Rio (Ferdinand), Jonny Evans, Michael Keane, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, so for us to go and buy another young centre-half wasn't the biggest thing we needed at the time."

Fellow former Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho did try to sign Maguire last season, and unsurprisingly, heaped praise on the England defender.

He said on Sky Sports: "I think he fully deserved the Man-of-the-Match (award against Chelsea).

"I think he was solid like a rock, and as we know, it's very important for a team to have that, not just the tactical knowledge but that personality, that sense of reading the game, of being alert all the time and confident to play.

"He was fantastic...

GOOD PARTNERSHIP

"Maguire was good, (Victor) Lindelof was good. As I always said, Lindelof can be a very good player, and with Maguire, (they) can make a very, very good couple."

Former Arsenal and England midfielder Paul Merson last week called Maguire's £80m transfer fee "ridiculous" and suggested he thrived in a back three for England because he could not be "trusted" in a two-man centre-back pairing.

After the win over Chelsea, Merson apologised for his comments, saying: "I thought he was steady.

"He's commanding, he's got that presence, he looks like a centre-half, he doesn't mess about.

"He did very well...

"I was a bit critical, if I'm being honest...

"I thought it was a lot of money, but I sort of didn't give him the credit he deserves for how good he is."

Football