Leicester must learn from Southampton’s mistakes amid £80m Maguire interest

Will he or won’t he go? That appears to be the lingering question surrounding Leicester City star Harry Maguire at the moment.

Last summer the central defender was linked with a switch to Manchester United. That never happened despite an impressive World Cup, but a year on he’s attracted yet more interest.

Manchester City appear to be at the front of the queue at the moment for a deal that could cost a monumental £80m, breaking the £75m record fee for a defender that Liverpool paid to bring Virgil van Dijk to Merseyside.

It’s a deal that would be a bitter blow to the Foxes. Over the last few years they’ve become accustomed to seeing their best players walk through the exit door.

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Last season Maguire played 31 times in the Premier League, once again forming a brick wall in front of Kasper Schmeichel. On average, he won 3.8 aerial duels per game, something that provides clear evidence of the influence he has over the side.

If Leicester do indeed receive £80m for his services, it would be phenomenal business after signing him for a mere £17m from Hull in 2017.

To think that a player who was relegated with the Tigers would eventually garnet a world-record fee for a defender is verging on incomprehensible.

But then again, that appears to be the essence of the modern market.

If the deal goes through it would represent Leicester’s record sale. Hardly surprising is it? But it would eclipse the £60m fee Man City handed Leicester for Riyad Mahrez last summer.

Signed for a measly £400,000 from Le Havre, they gained a remarkable profit for a man who once helped them to a Premier League title. Similarly, Danny Drinkwater also signed for a six-figure sum, only to leave for a whopping £30m.

Not only do Leicester’s scouting team deserve a tremendous amount of praise to find players like these, but those who are involved in negotiating player sales are clearly some of the best in the business.

In many ways, they are the masters of the transfer market. They brought N’Golo Kante to England as a relatively unknown footballer, but he soon blossomed into one of the most outstanding midfielders in world football, commanding a £30m fee when he signed for Chelsea just one year after he moved to the King Power in a £5.6m deal.

The only fee from their potential list of top five sales that they didn’t recoup was from Ahmed Musa. They bought him for £16m, only to then sell him for less.

For the most part, their dealings in the transfer window have been exceptional and they’ve been able to deal with the departures of star players.

Wilfred Ndidi has been a stellar acquisition in the middle of the park, whilst they’ve been able to build their side around players like James Maddison and Ricardo Pereira.

Yet, there should be a warning for Leicester, particularly if they do end up selling Maguire. You only need to take a look at Southampton to realise how things can go wrong.

The Saints have done some similarly exceptional work in the market but somehow nearly ended up on their haunches.

They were able to command a record fee for Van Dijk, as well as take £25m and £27m for two of their academy players.

Luke Shaw, of course, cost nothing when he arrived as a boy, whilst Southampton only had to pay £3000 compensation for Adam Lallana to sign him from Bournemouth as a 12-year-old.

Huge profits for the likes of Sadio Mane and Morgan Schneiderlin were also gained after initial moves from RB Salzburg and Strasbourg.

But the Saints are only just recovering after experiencing some turbulent years in the top-flight.

They were a side who looked capable of competing for a Europa League place not too long ago, but up until Ralph Hasenhuttl’s arrival midway through last season, they looked stuck for ideas while buried in a demoralising crisis of identity.

They’re now beginning to pick themselves back up again after some pretty hefty blows to their playing squad, but a lesson can be learned here for the Foxes.

It’s vital they capitalise on the profit they’ve gained by bringing in capable replacements and building a more positive future.

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You sense that with Brendan Rodgers at the helm, the Midlands outfit are far better placed to do so than Southampton ever were when they sold Van Dijk.

However, £80m is a huge fee and the temptation to spend it all at once could be problematic.

Leicester must show caution if the deal does go through and act sensibly. They must use events that have unfolded at Southampton as a warning sign.

At times they have been sensible, but spending £29m and £25m on Islam Slimani and Kelechi Iheanacho shows they can get things wrong.

As they aim to return to Europe, it’s crucial they act wisely and rebuild sufficiently if their star defender walks away in a stunning summer deal.

Article title: Leicester must learn from Southampton’s mistakes amid £80m Maguire interest

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