Two games into the Premier League season, Foxes fans would be hard pressed to name a player who has been more impressive and influential than Harry Maguire. The summer signing from Hull City, who picked up an amazing assist against Arsenal, opened his Leicester City account against Brighton by heading in a Riyad Mahrez corner early in the second half to seal the victory.
An assist and a goal in the first two games would be a great start for a striker or winger, but it is especially inspiring coming from our new marauding center back.
After the vast majority of last season’s summer signings seemed to flop, it would have been understandable for Foxes fans to be wary of this transfer window’s first signing. After all, while center back was definitely a position of need, Maguire was coming from the Premier League’s worst defense at Hull City, a squad that allowed the most goals (over 2 per game) and achieved the fewest clean sheets (5) during the 2016/17 season.
While he had Premier League experience, was it quality experience? Early results suggest that the answer is a resounding yes. Maguire looked perfectly comfortable playing against Arsenal’s excellent front line and he fairly dominated in the Brighton match.
Listed at 6’2”, Maguire looks absolutely huge on the pitch. While he does not appear to be overweight, he has a certain ungainly quality about him that might lead onlookers to believe he will be a step slow or a bit uncoordinated. But watching him play is a revelation. He consistently out jumps opposing players, he uses his bulk very effectively in defending set pieces and the box, and he looks incredibly nimble and comfortable with the ball on his feet.
His athleticism was on display when he tracked down a cross from Marc Albrighton and headed it back toward Shinji Okazaki for Leicester’s first goal against Arsenal. And against Brighton, he out jumped and out muscled both Brighton defender Shane Duffy AND teammate Wes Morgan to head home Mahrez’s corner. Displays like that make his dream of playing for England seem not so far-fetched.
Remembering Leicester’s struggles at the end of last season when Morgan and Robert Huth both missed time, and when one considers the start to this season with Huth recovering from injury and Morgan starting to show his age (and seeming to injure his back against Brighton), Maguire might be the most important player in the Leicester squad this season.
His exceptional play so far has contributed directly to their positive start, and his youth provides assurances for the future as Huth and Morgan wind down their careers.
So here is to a wonderful beginning to Harry Maguire’s career as a Fox, and may it long continue.