Football News

Maguire backed to bring ‘Van Dijk level of influence’ to Man Utd defence

By James Richards

Published: 14:29, 19 August 2019

Former Manchester United defender Gary Pallister believes Harry Maguire can be as influential at Old Trafford as Virgil van Dijk is for Liverpool.

Maguire became the most expensive defender in football history when Man United paid Leicester £80 million for his services earlier this summer.

Manchester United finished last season outside the top four after a poor start under manager Jose Mourinho, with a lack of defensive cohesion developing into a key weakness.

The Portuguese manager was frustrated by what he perceived to be a lack of transfer activity that limited his ability to challenge the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City, with one of the main areas he wanted to improve being central defence.

Th need to strengthen in the heart of defence carried over into this summer with and Man United finally got a deal for long-term target Maguire over the line before the transfer deadline.

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The £80 million deal is a world-record fee for a defender and former United centre-back Gary Pallister sees Maguire producing a similar impact to the one Van Dijk had at Anfield.

“Van Dijk’s performances were out of the top drawer last year, and is the final piece of the jigsaw as Liverpool looked lightweight at the back and were screaming out for that calming influence, who was strong and defend properly, and he’s brought all of those attributes to the back four,” Pallister told

“I don’t think he [Maguire] wants to be compared to Van Dijk, but he can certainly have the same kind of influence on the side, and especially the back four.”

Who will partner Maguire in the long term?

In the 4-0 victory against Chelsea, Maguire played next to Victor Lindelof and this could be the long-term plan for United going forward.

Pallister believes the Swedish international deserves his chance ahead of the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Eric Bailly.

“Lindelof earned the chance to play with Maguire over the last six months of last season,” the former United defender added.

“Before, he looked like the club was too big for him, and he hadn’t settled into the in the Premier League, and you wondered if he would ever settle.

“But his performances earned him the right. He looked composed on Sunday [against Chelsea] and he’s got first shot at it, and it’s up to him to cement his place.”

Man United take on Wolves at Molineux on Monday night as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer aims to make it two wins from two.

Can Maguire be United’s Van Dijk? Five key things to know…

  • Man United finally landed long-term target Maguire this summer.
  • The Red Devils paid £80 million to sign the England international from Leicester.
  • United have been searching for a world-class centre-back since last summer.
  • Maguire produced a dominant display on his Old Trafford debut.
  • Pallister believes Maguire can have the same influence at United as Van Dijk has had at Anfield.