This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Speaking on talkSPORT, Alan Brazil has questioned why Manchester United failed to move for Matthijs de Ligt and instead opted to chase Leicester’s Harry Maguire.
Reports in recent months had suggested United were one of the sides interested in signing De Ligt this summer, but as rumours linking the club to the Dutchman cooled, talks of a move for Maguire intensified.
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As the Red Devils continue to pursue a deal for Maguire, De Ligt has completed a £67.5m move to Serie A champions Juventus after leaving Ajax.
In response, Brazil said: “Manchester United, could they not have gone in there with £68m? This is nothing to do with Harry Maguire – I like him as a player – but they are talking about £80m for Harry who is 26 and De Ligt is 20 next month but he goes for just £67.5m.”
When United signed Paul Pogba in the summer of 2016, the club had finished outside the Champions League places and thus were staring down the barrel at a season of Europa League football. And yet they still managed to pull off a club record deal and entice one of the game’s biggest names to Old Trafford.
So whilst it could be pointed out that De Ligt may not have wanted to play for a side not competing in European football’s elite competition, that necessarily isn’t the be all and end all. United’s stature as a club is that it can lure players of the highest calibre at any given time, regardless of how badly they may have performed the previous year.
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Reports had even suggested De Ligt was insistent on getting first-team football at his new club. So by that logic, the Dutchman clearly fancied his chances of fending off competition from the likes of Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli as opposed to the supreme double act of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
Brazil is certainly right in suggesting United could have pushed the boat out a little to sign the 19-year-old, and are now having to pay an exorbitant amount to try and sign Maguire. Both centre-backs would surely improve United’s defence, but De Ligt’s arrival would have been a massive statement off the pitch too.