Harry Maguire is now a record-breaker. His transfer to Manchester United has made him the world’s most expensive defender, surpassing the fee Liverpool paid for Dutchman Virgil van Dijk. Both are of similar ages and possess similar traits in their defending. However, Maguire can surpass his Dutch counterpart, and become one of the best defenders in the world.
Harry Maguire Can Surpass Virgil van Dijk
The Stats Don’t Lie, They Are Already Close Comparisons
How much do you read into stats? What do stats actually tell the fans, managers and scouts?
The stats show that the pair are actually already close together in terms of their quality. For example, Maguire made 31 tackles for Leicester City last season in comparison to Virgil van Dijk’s 38 for Liverpool.
Does making more tackles make you a better defender? Not necessarily, but the percentage of those tackles completed was edged by the Liverpool defender, with 74% of his tackles completed in comparison to 55% by Maguire.
However, as Van Dijk would have learned with his move, playing with better players can help individual progression as a player. The Dutchman has seen a monumental rise to the top of the game since his move to Merseyside, partly thanks to a better manager and being surrounded by better players. Maguire can emulate what Van Dijk has demonstrated, and become Manchester United’s leader.
The Liverpool centre half edges interceptions, clearances and percentage of duels won. However, Maguire comes out on top when it comes to 50/50s won and aerial battles won.
The England international is already a close enemy and competitor of Van Dijk’s. While the Dutchman may carry the tag of the Premier League’s best defender, the baton may be passed to his English counterpart.
Similar Pathways to the Top
Both have had similar pathways to their retrospective clubs. They have earned their way to the top through hard work and patience.
Van Dijk began with mid-table Eredivisie side Groningen before earning a move to Celtic. Having impressed in Scotland, he moved to Southampton where he became their talisman at centre-half. He became captain of the Saints at the start of 2017, and while he wanted to leave in the summer of 2017, he remained until the end of the year.
Maguire has shown grit and determination to reach the top. Starting at his boyhood club Sheffield United, he had spells with Wigan Athletic and Hull City before moving to Leicester.
However, what Harry Maguire lacks is what Van Dijk had already achieved before his move to Liverpool. The 28-year-old had previously experienced European football with Celtic; this season is Maguire’s first taste of Europe with Manchester United. Maguire should adapt easily, having already played against the world’s best with England.
The New Ball-Playing Centre-Back at Manchester United
Perhaps the biggest comparison that can be made between Maguire and Van Dijk is that they both prefer to play out from the back. Both were the nucleus of their retrospective side in attacks. In fact, Van Dijk topped the most passes made by a defender last season, while Maguire came 12th.
However, Maguire ranks the best in terms of passes made across the season and passes made per match out of the current crop of centre-backs at Manchester United. Only his likely partner in the centre of defence Victor Lindelof comes closest. In fact, the new arrival boasts better passing stats than all but two of United’s central midfielders.
The arrival of Maguire hints at the way that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is looking to play. He wants to play out from the back, he wants to attack with style, perhaps learning of his Manchester neighbours.
Time For a Battle to Commence Between Harry Maguire and Virgil van Dijk
Manchester United vs Liverpool. Harry Maguire against Virgil van Dijk. The two most expensive defenders in the world will operate against each other in one of the world’s greatest rivals.
However, now an individual rivalry has begun. The pressure is on Maguire to succeed, and the pressure is on Van Dijk to keep his crown.
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