As Manchester United prepare to face Barcelona in their Europa League, play-off second-leg clash on Thursday, one man who will likely be restricted to a watching brief is club captain, Harry Maguire, with the Englishman unlikely to start after missing the weekend win over Leicester City due to a knee injury – albeit while being set to make his return to the matchday squad.
For most clubs, the potential absence of their skipper ahead of such a pivotal encounter would be a real cause for concern, although it is a marker of the centre-back’s ongoing decline that he has now become something of an afterthought at Old Trafford.
The 29-year-old’s diminishing status was also evident last month as few were even aware that he was suspended for the Carabao Cup meeting away to Nottingham Forest, with the defender’s absence no longer a blow to the Red Devils.
Despite having been a regular fixture under both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and interim boss Ralf Rangnick, the Sheffield native has been ruthlessly cast out by new boss Erik ten Hag in recent months, having started just three Premier League games since the humbling 4-0 defeat to Brentford back in August.
With compatriot Luke Shaw having even been preferred in a left centre-back berth of late, there is an argument to suggest that Maguire is now fifth-choice in the defensive pecking order, with the likes of Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez and Victor Lindelof having all been more prominent of late.
That lack of action has sparked speculation that United will allow the £190k-per-week dud to depart at the end of the season, albeit with it yet to be seen if the club will be able to recoup anywhere close to the mammoth, £80m fee that was required to prise the 6 foot 4 brute from the King Power Stadium back in 2019.
How much is Maguire worth now?
The current hierarchy will likely be ruing the decision of former chief executive Ed Woodward to have forked out such a sizeable fee for the one-time Hull City man, with the much-maligned transfer chief having also overseen the £50m acquisition of Aaron Wan-Bissaka that same summer.
While the latter man has enjoyed something of a resurgence of late despite previously looking surplus to requirements, in the case of Maguire the towering asset appears to only be heading in one direction – out the door.
If those at the Theatre of Dreams are to cash in on the struggling “liability” – as previously described by writer Zach Lowy – then it does appear that they will have to accept a substantial loss on Woodward’s initial investment, with CIES Football Observatory currently valuing the player at just £31m.
That plummetting valuation represents a rather stark 61% decrease on that £80m transfer fee, with it looking as if Ten Hag and co will have to simply cut their losses if they are to move the peripheral figure on ahead of next season.
With it looking ‘too late‘ for Maguire to revive his fortunes in Manchester – in the words of pundit Jamie Carragher – it could well be best for all parties that the 53-cap colossus finds a new home sooner rather than later.
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