Erik ten Hag has identified three players who could replace Harry Maguire as captain as Manchester United’s new boss sent the defender a warning about his place in the side.
The England international has just finished a disastrous season with the Red Devils and it’s claimed that he will not be a part of the Dutchman’s plans as United search for a new centre-half with Jurrien Timber and Pau Torres linked with a move to Old Trafford.
ESPN claims Maguire is not guaranteed to start under Ten Hag because of his lack of pace and the manager’s tendency to play with a high defensive line.
The report also claims that David de Gea, Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the candidates to take the armband off Maguire if there is a change in captaincy.
There are question marks over De Gea’s ability on the ball to play in Ten Hag’s system, however, but he’ll likely keep the no.1 shirt next season as signing a striker and a midfielder this summer is prioritised over a new keeper.
Maguire’s captaincy came under scrutiny throughout the course of the season as his form dramatically dipped with Mirror Football revealing that the defender was embroiled in a power struggle with Cristiano Ronaldo at one point. Ralf Rangnick looked to relieve Maguire of the pressure he was under by taking the armband off him towards the end of the season.
Ronaldo emerged as the favourite to be named his successor due to his authoritative role in the dressing room.
Rangnick had asked the Portugal star to mentor the younger players within the squad as he set an example for the likes of Jadon Sancho, Scott McTominay, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Elanga.
Maguire was unwilling to give it up out of fear that he could lose it permanently, however, and would end up keeping it for the remainder of the season.
Maguire also ‘upset’ a number of teammates during the season, according to the Daily Mail, by calling them out for individual mistakes on the pitch, as well as his critical post-match comments to the media.
The Times also reported that several members of the Red Devils’ camp believed Maguire should have been dropped due to his performance levels deteriorating.
Ronaldo has previously backed Maguire as captain, urging United’s players to get behind him, but that vocal support lessened towards the end of the season.
A United source told Mirror Football: “Originally, Ronaldo was asking players to back Harry. But the problem is the manager now wants Ronaldo to mentor all these younger players.
“That’s left Harry in no man’s land, as he’s the captain and having to say and follow whatever Ronaldo says, to keep everything sweet.”