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Harry Maguire & Man Utd: Why Leicester powerhouse can launch Solskjaer era

COMMENT: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be pleased with Brendan Rodgers today. Ed Woodward, not so much. But the Manchester United manager certainly will be happy...

The Leicester City boss did Solskjaer a big favour on Tuesday. While Solskjaer had refused to drop Harry Maguire's name when pressed about his shopping list, Rodgers simply let it all hang out. And in doing so, granted his counterpart a huge lift.

Having handed his England defender a first preseason runout, Rodgers refused to mess the media around after victory over Scunthorpe United. Yes, there's been bids tabled. Yes, United are an attractive proposition. But no, the offers made haven't met their valuation.

"Of course, he has attracted interest with two bids coming in but they nowhere near meet the valuation of the club," declared Rodgers.

"We are all pretty relaxed because until our valuation is met, there doesn't need to be a decision."

So there's still some work to do. But Solskjaer will be delighted. Rodgers has left no-one in doubt. Particularly both Maguire and the United support. United want the defender. And it's now up to their vice-chairman exec to get a deal done.

Rodgers' revelation of two bids - two bids falling well short. It's simply confirming Woodward's approach to this summer market so far. Negotiations with Swansea City for Daniel James dragged on. Finding common ground with Crystal Palace for Aaron Wan-Bissaka took even longer. In both instances, Woodward entered talks with low-ball offers - before eventually settling on terms nearer to the selling club's valuation than his own. If all goes to plan, the same process will lead Maguire to being snapped at Carrington ahead of a medical by the weekend.

For some, including Woodward, at the £90m Leicester are quoting, United are being taken for a ride. But getting Maguire through the door, no matter the price, will mean more to this United dressing room than simply another new face.

At 26. As an established England international. And given his playing background - from Sheffield United to Hull City to the Foxes. Maguire would arrive at United as their most significant signing of the post Sir Alex Ferguson era. Even more so than Paul Pogba.

As celebrated as the Frenchman's arrival was, it was done on the understanding that United were simply a stepping stone. Mino Raiola, Pogba's agent, making it clear it would be three years in before a return to the continent.

In Maguire's case, this is it. United or bust. A player not to build a team around. But upon. A centre-half to lead. Cajole. Inspire. One who will make those around him better. Where Pogba - it's now being argued - requires others around him to bring out his best. Maguire is the opposite.

As his former Leicester teammate Danny Simpson, once of United, says: "He's improving, he's a leader and he can be whatever he wants to be. The way he brings the ball out from the back and organises everyone is quality."

James and Wan-Bissaka have potential. Good potential. But Maguire is the real thing. A transformative player. A foundation stone to mark this Solskjaer era. He's not one from the academies. Not one fast-tracked through the system. He's done it the hard way. Some would argue the right way. No-one has made it easy for him. And he'll take that attitude into the United dressing room.

As Rodgers highlighted, there's been no sulking from Maguire. No downing of tools as it became clear Leicester would be driving a hard bargain for him. It's the sort of approach to his profession that this United locker room has been sorely lacking.

"You see him on the field but off the field he has been very professional," insisted the Leicester manager. "The supporters need to know how he has been. He has never once sulked, he's just got on with it. He was sick yesterday, like a number of players who were in the group.

"In the circumstances, it would have been very easy for him not to play, but he wanted to be with the squad."

Woodward isn't just negotiating for a player this week. He's negotiating for a change of culture. A genuine beginning of a new team. A new era. And thanks to Rodgers, it's now all out in the open.

Solskjaer will be pleased...


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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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