Harry Maguire and John Stones duo highlights Manchester United transfer need
England have advanced to the final of Euro 2020 after beating Denmark 2-1 at Wembley after 120 minutes of dramatic and tense football.
Italy will face Gareth Southgate’s men in Sunday’s decider, with the Three Lions boss almost certain to rely on his fixed key figures to deliver the country’s first major international trophy since 1966.
Harry Maguire has proved to be one of those pillars for Southgate; the England boss included him in the initial squad despite the fact he was carrying an ankle injury and integrated him into his starting 11 for the third group stage match against Czech Republic, despite Tyrone Mings performing well in his absence.
The Manchester United centre-back has since scored and performed to a high standard with and without the ball, having also benefited from the presence of John Stones alongside him.
Signing a partner for Maguire is said to be on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s shortlist this summer, with Victor Lindelof deemed to be reliable but less than ideal when it comes to acting as a partner for his skipper.
Speaking near the end of last season, Gary Neville highlighted why United need a new face at centre-back.
He said: “Lindelof’s problem is Maguire. Maguire’s problem is Lindelof.
“If you put Lindelof alongside Van Dijk, he’d make a great pair, but the problem is that he’s alongside somebody who isn’t the most mobile. They both drop back a little bit, and they’ve got to get up the pitch. More front foot, more aggressive.”
Stones isn’t the perfect player for Maguire, but it is reasonable to suggest that he is more suited than Lindelof for a number of reasons.
Both Stones and Lindelof are composed and comfortable on the ball, but the Manchester City centre-back appears more mobile and better in the air — having proved to be a threat for England from set-pieces over the years.
A transfer deal for Stones’ services can be totally ruled out for innumerable reasons, but the showings of the pair at Euro 2020 offer an insight into how Maguire could benefit from a player in the mould of Raphael Varane — who is on United’s radar at the moment.
The French defender is equally strong in the air and would provide even more speed across the ground than Stones, although he’s perhaps less of a ball-playing type than Stones.
Maguire has been one of England’s stars of the tournament, with Stones showing himself to be an effective partner. Solskjaer will hope that he’s able to provide a platform for such form to continue at club level when the new season starts next month.