Harry Maguire Has Raised His Game to New Heights Since Assuming Captaincy Role at Man Utd

​Manchester United opted to fork out £80m in order to bring Harry Maguire to Old Trafford last summer - a fee which saw him become the world's most expensive defender.

Sure, Maguire had impressed for Leicester City and indeed Hull City before that. 

Sure, he also became somewhat of an icon during England's run to the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018. Sure, he was the leader at the back, while he was also a threat from set pieces, the centre-back scoring his first international goal with a towering header in the win over Sweden. 

Harry Maguire

But was he really worth the £80m price tag? Many didn't think so.

Maguire himself couldn't do anything about the price tag, all he could do was prove his worth to ​Manchester United this season. Well, he was named as captain in January following the departure of Ashley Young due to his impact both on and off the field, while he has also been a key player in helping United pick up 20 clean sheets so far this season - the second most of any side in Europe's top five leagues. 

In the early stages of the season, it was very clear that United struggled at points and while Maguire was often given the armband when Young wasn't playing, the majority of the team's problems stemmed from individual mistakes, or their overall inability to break down lesser sides. 

Harry Maguire

But with Young on his way out, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed to react by deciding who his new captain was going to be - someone who could lead the team and pick them up when the problems begin to mount. However, it was far from clear who would be handed the armband on a permanent basis. 

While ​Maguire was brought in to be a leader at the back, few could have expected him to be named the next permanent captain of Britain's biggest club just a matter of months after joining. Yet Solskjaer alluded to his leadership skills and revealed how impressed with him he had been.

​He said“He’s come in and been a leader in the group. I’ve been not surprised, but I’ve been impressed by his leadership skills, so Harry will carry on wearing the armband."

Despite being named captain, a number of football fans - and indeed United fans - had their reservations about his overall ability as a footballer. It wasn't that he was bad, but just that he was ok and nothing more, according to some.

But his performances since becoming captain underline just how crucial he is to this Manchester United team, both on and off the field. 

Since Maguire was named as captain, the Red Devils have kept more clean sheets (nine) than they have conceded goals (six).

This statistic speaks for itself. 

If any further proof was needed as to how impressive he has been since taking over from Young, then you only need to look as far as United's defensive record in the month of February. That month, he scored the same number of goals (one) as he conceded. 

The 27-year-old has countlessly thrown himself in the way of goal-bound strikes, while he has marshalled his defence with great authority. Equally, however, he has been bright in possession, constantly thinking positively and directing his forwards where to move in order for him to play a penetrating pass. 

Clearly, he has had a major impact on the field.

But off the field, Maguire has also stepped up and justified why he was the right choice to be made the permanent captain. ​Henry Winter of the Times reported at the start of March that Maguire went around the different departments at Old Trafford, meeting staff and taking the time to learn about their jobs. He also reiterated the team's desire to get back to the top. 

The centre-back is a true professional, and he sets an example for others to follow. More recently, ​Bleacher Report claim that United's training camp in Marbella helped new recruit Bruno Fernandes to settle. But it was one night in particular they claim has had a major impact on the whole squad. 

Harry Maguire

This night was arranged by Maguire, with the intention of bringing the squad closer together. This has had a positive impact on the atmosphere ever since. 

Man Utd are 11 games without defeat following their ruthless 5-0 win over LASK in the Europa League recently. They have scored 29 goals in that time, and conceded just twice. While the football has since stopped for more important things, United have seemingly turned a corner - and this confident-looking side is being led by captain Maguire. 

Overall this season, Maguire has played 41 times already. This includes starting all 29 Premier League games, and playing the full 90 minutes in each one. When other star players seem to be rested, Maguire is usually lining up in the centre of the defence such is his importance to this team. 

The England international can't do anything about his transfer fee, but his performances earned him the captaincy. And since then, he has raised his game both on and off the field, becoming the leader Manchester United needs. 

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Source : 90min