Manchester United have some important decisions to make as center-backs this summer.
Signing a new defender should be a priority for United. What the club can’t do is have Harry Maguire play in almost every single game.
Maguire ran out of luck with an injury at the end of the season, he missed the last four Premier League games and then crucially the Europa League final.
Maguire is still struggling with his ankle problem and doesn’t expect it to go away anytime soon.
(Photo by Chris Ricco – UEFA / UEFA via Getty Images)
The United captain was quoted by the Blackpool Telegraph as saying, “I’m sure it will bug me for a few weeks and months. When I talk to players and physios I am sure it will be tricky. But as long as it is stable and the pain is bearable, I am sure that I will be fine. “
Hearing that Maguire will play in pain should make anyone associated with United uncomfortable. It cost the club £ 80m and United has to take care of it.
Liverpool suffered badly last season when Virgil van Dijk was injured. United must wonder if the club is prepared for the event Maguire is missing a month, let alone several, in 2021/22?
How deep is United?
Behind Maguire, United has Eric Bailly, Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe.
Bailly will be performing at AFCON for Ivory Coast mid-season and will miss a month of action. His poor injury record also raises concerns about whether United can actually rely on him.
There are also suggestions that Axel Tuanzebe may be loaned out this season.
I was told that Axel Tuanzebe will be loaned out by #MUFC for the entire season
– Jonathan Shrager (@JonathanShrager) June 16, 2021
This could be good for Tuanzebe’s development but United cannot let him go without making sure they have adequate coverage.
If Tuanzebe goes on loan, United will only have Maguire, Lindelof and Bailly.
Maguire is handling a fitness issue and as mentioned earlier, Bailly will be missing out on the AFCON. United must prepare for the worst.
Teden Mengi is also likely to be loaned out. Phil Jones could end up as emergency coverage but this is not a scenario United fans would want to consider at this point.
(Photo by Plumb Images / Leicester City FC via Getty Images)
Prepare for the worst, get the best
By preparing for the worst, United will be able to face the challenges of a long season.
Four central defenders seem enough, it was last season. But Axel Tuanzebe’s loan means United are close.
His loan exit could be a sign of a new center-back coming, as United fans are asking for. The MEN report United has rejected an offer for Raphael Varane. It’s a step in the right direction and shows some intention.
Take into account all other factors, fitness issues, AFCON and its clear United shouldn’t be too complacent. This could mean United getting a little selfish and denying Tuanzebe a loan regardless of a new signing. United really need to look carefully into the future.
United wondered: “If Maguire is out for two months due to injury in January and February, will we have enough cover?” Bailly will then be absent, leaving only Lindelof plus one more, Tuanzebe or a new addition. It would really be better to have both.
The worst thing United could do is to rely too much on Harry Maguire and go understaffed into the season in a key position, pushing players into roles where they increase the risk of injury.
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