- 23 March
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Seven possible Harry Maguire replacements at Man Utd
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag has taken the decision to separate with central defender Harry Maguire in the summer, FootballTransfers first revealed on Friday.
The Man Utd manager wants to see greater competition in the heart of his defence, where Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez stand clear as his first picks.
But what is Ten Hag likely to want from a defender coming into the club?
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Firstly, they are likely to possess the same type of profile as Varane, at least in terms of physical stature. In terms of qualities, any signing is likely to be strong in terms of their prevention and pressing statistics. Furthermore, if the Dutchman wants immediate competition for a first-team spot, any target is liable to be an already proven player in the younger stages of his career.
Here are seven players who fit the bill:
Marc Guehi - Crystal Palace
Missed out on the England World Cup squad at the expense of Maguire, but would have the last laugh if he were able to replace him at Manchester United. It is not such a distant prospect for the Crystal Palace youngster, who has impressed at Selhurst Park since moving initially on loan from Chelsea in the summer of 2021.
Guehi is not only a proven Premier League performer, but he also has plenty of scope to improve. Valued at €48 million by FootballTransfers – more than twice what Palace signed him for – he would not come cheap.
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Pierre Kalulu - AC Milan
At 22, Kalulu is not the finished article yet but boasts a high potential ceiling, which makes him a possible target. A former Lyon youth, he won 11 caps for the France U21 side and is playing on a regular basis for Milan in Serie A this season.
His versatility across the backline makes him a particularly attractive prospect, although he has just signed a contract extension with the Rossoneri, meaning that he will be tough to prise away next summer. Another downside is a relative lack of height for a central defender.
Lukas Klostermann – RB Leipzig
A more experienced option at the age of 26, but still one that Ten Hag should give some consideration to. Klostermann has been quietly playing at a high level for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga since 2014, amassing a ton of experience and 18 Germany caps in the process.
He would represent a more budget option, with FootballTransfers valuing him around the €18m mark, but if the priority for Man Utd means investing in their squad elsewhere, then he could be the type of support player that Ten Hag wants.
Benoit Badiashile – Monaco
A player who has long been linked with a move to a big club, Badiashile could soon get that opportunity after coming through the Monaco academy and playing five years as a professional at the club.
It could be time for the 21-year-old to move on and continuing his education in an environment like Manchester United would be seen as worthwhile. Missing out on the France World Cup squad could be a catalyst for this. Not only is he a player for the future, he is also capable of stepping up immediately if need be.
There are a couple of intriguing possibilities for Manchester United if they want to sign very young and very raw players. Admittedly, these names are unlikely to be on Ten Hag’s shortlist because he is after a senior professional to step up in place of Maguire, yet they could be long-term replacements for the England man.
Red Bull Salzburg defender Bryan Okoh is the first candidate. At 19 years old, the Swiss-American has yet to debut for the club in the first team but has featured for Switzerland U21 and is highly rated.
The second name on this list Sander Alex Liit, who turns out for FC Kuressaare in Estonia’s top flight. The 19-year-old centre-back is considered to have a huge future in the game, though is just making his way in the professional world.
Hellas Verona’s Diego Coppola is another to keep an eye on at just 18.
The issue that Man Utd will have with these young players, though, is that Brexit will make getting a work permit a complicated task.