Former Manchester United defender and BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand believes Harry Maguire's personality and character will put him in a place to succeed at Old Trafford, ahead of his debut against Chelsea this weekend.
Maguire completed his move to United from Leicester City last week in a deal worth £80m. It was a move which made the England international the most expensive defender - and most expensive English player - in football history.
Both titles Ferdinand himself held from 2002, when he moved to United from Leeds for £30m, and Ferdinand spoke to 90min this week to offer Maguire advice on how to deal with the price tag, the pressure that comes with it, and the expectation that sits on a player's shoulders after moving to a club like United.
"Everything is scrutinised," he said, speaking on the transfer fee. "You know now as the guy with the big price tag - you’ve broken records - what happens is that every touch is scrutinised.
"You know that the players are going to be looking at you to see what you bring to the table, given that they’ve spent that much money. What are you about? What have you got? The fans’ expectations will be high."
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Most Expensive Defender Of All Time... Harry Maguire signs for @manchesterunited for £80mill... funny enough we’ve both been there! Is there pressure? Yes.. is there expectation from across the world? Definitely... Are all eyes on Me? 100%... Will Your teammates be expecting big things? Of course.... Will people be expecting a massive change in the teams fortune? Most Definitely... These were the feelings, questions that were surrounding me when signing for the great club Manchester United. Being a CB, I have took a keen interest In Harry Maguire’s game since being linked with #MUFC under Moyes. He has made huge strides in the right direction & improved in all areas of his game. He’s grown into someone who can lead & be a leader of men... and shown at both ends of the pitch he can be effective. He has composure, willingness on the ball as well as the ability to drive out from the defence which I feel is as good as anyone in the game right now. Does he have things to work on... ofcourse like everyone else! After speaking to numerous people that know him, they all say what a level headed, hard working lad he is who will give 110% for his team which he echoed when signing. I think something #MUFC have needed defensively in recent years is a big character who can take on the responsibility of leading from the back & from what I’ve heard from people who know him well, they are confident that he will bring that to this football club. I would like to wish him well in the no5 shirt of @manchesterunited and hope he can help bring back success to our club. Good Luck @harrymaguire93 👊🏽⚽️
Maguire's arrival means United now have seven senior centre backs, though the 26-year-old will come in as an automatic first choice and a likely partner to Victor Lindelof - who Ferdinand has spoken to 90min about in the past. Ferdinand does however believe that the external pressures are greater on Maguire now than they were during his peak years, while he also stressed that Maguire isn't coming into a winning team.
Ferdinand added: "The pressure from the media, and there’s more media now.
"It’s in your phone straight away, you can see it, you can’t hide from it. But when I came in I had a choice, I didn’t have to buy the paper or listen to the radio about ‘oh he’s cost this much, we’re expecting this, we’re expecting that’. So I didn’t have as much outside pressure as what Harry will have now. There’s a lot more.
"It will be much more difficult for someone like Harry to switch off from all of the things that get posted about him. That amounts to pressure, even higher, so it’s going to be difficult. They’ll be a lot of questions in his head - ‘Am I good enough, am I gonna make an instant impact?’ They’re big questions to be answered."
Ferdinand did however go on to share the positives, and spoke openly about what Maguire would add to the United side: "[Bringing the ball out of defence is] his best attribute.
"He's someone with personality, character, and someone who looks like they’re willing to shoulder responsibility. They’re big parts of a defender’s make-up that can help other people, so you’d like to think that’ll happen.
"And I just think his willingness to take the ball. I think a lot will depend on how Ole wants to play as well, so again, if Ole wants to get his defenders on the ball and stuff then he’s got the right man."
Ferdinand has tipped United to finish in the top four this season ahead of Arsenal and Chelsea (though in fairness, we did speak before transfer deadline day), but he stressed that there's huge differences between his former club and last season's Premier League's pacesetters - Manchester City and Liverpool.
On the differences between United and their rivals, Ferdinand said: "There’s loads, isn’t there?
"Obviously, both of them teams have got top, top players who have proved over the last couple of seasons that they’re winners. Manchester United’s haven’t, in Manchester United shirts, they really been able to do that yet, so there are question marks over the players in that sense.
"But what you’ve got at those teams is consistency - consistency of team selection and consistency in terms of performances, week in week out, churning out results. Man Utd haven’t had that and they need to work towards that."
Maguire and United will open their Premier League campaign on Sunday against Chelsea, before a difficult trip to Molineux to face Wolves.
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