Manchester United reportedly believe they have identified the teammate who leaked the side’s apparent frustrations with Harry Maguire to the press.
The United skipper has endured a difficult campaign, bearing the brunt of much criticism this season. With the Red Devils leaking a club high of 56 goals in a Premier League season, Maguire has come in for plenty of criticism. Indeed, Roy Keane recently destroyed the United skipper for his performances and his United failings.
To make matters worse for Maguire, an article in The Times in March stated United’s players were questioning Maguire’s place in the side.
That damning report cited an unnamed United star who questioned whether he was a worthy starter, saying he ‘had not met’ the required standards at United.
According to the Daily Mail, that created a ‘poisonous’ atmosphere in United’s dressing room with the players distrusting of one another and determined to unearth the leak.
As a result, Maguire’s future at United looks to be in serious peril. Reports claim new manager Erik ten Hag is looking for an upgrade in central defence, which may leave Maguire being pushed out of the club.
And while he remains the world’s most costly defender at £80m, it was stated that United are preparing to take a huge loss on the player.
The Mail though now states that ‘most players’ are now thought to have established who the leak is. And they state that the news will leave Ten Hag with an immediate problem to fix and relationships to repair.
Rangnick offers his thoughts on United captaincy
Questions over Maguire’s future at United prompted interim boss Ralf Rangnick to offer some words of wisdom last month.
“I understand your question but again I think it doesn’t make sense because we all don’t know what kind of players will be here, what the group will look like,” he said.
“I can only tell you what I have done in the past when I was head coach or manager. In Germany it’s called ‘Mannschaftskapitan’ – the captain of the team.
“I strongly believe that the captain should be elected by the team because he’s called the team manager and we always did that.
“We always had the board, the group of four or five players – we called it the ‘Spielerrat’ [players’ council] elected by the players.
“The player with the highest amount of votes was the team captain at the end. That’s how I did it.
“I know that not a lot of head coaches do it that way. That’s what I would do if I was still the manager next season but in the end I’m not, so this is something that Erik will have to decide.”
Harry Maguire can still salvage Man Utd career
The blame placed on Maguire’s shoulders this season has been huge – and, at times, unfair.
Granted, he has struggled to replicate his best form and criticism, especially given his price tag, makes him an obvious target.
But United have looked broken all over the pitch this season, with the balance of their side seriously wrong.
But there are probably three things Maguire needs going forwards.
Firstly, the trust of Ten Hag will help. The new United boss would help his skipper by coming out, once in charge properly, and underlining his faith in Harry Maguire.
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Secondly, a more reliable partner in defence won’t harm. Raphael Varane’s signing was an attempt to do just that, but has only figured in 22 Premier League games. Victor Lindelof, by contrast, has 27 appearances in the competition to his name.
And thirdly, with better protection in midfield, Maguire will likely make big improvements. That is an area that Ten Hag is keen to address with a number of targets in mind.
You only have to watch Maguire’s performances for England to know that there remains an excellent player in there.
Meanwhile, in an unconnected report, there are claims Cristiano Ronaldo may have his last game for United amid fresh doubts if his qualities are suitable for Ten Hag.