If the newspaper headlines are to be trusted (and aren’t they always?), Harry Maguire has expressed a desire to leave Leicester City for Manchester United. However, the fact that the Red Devils lack the financial clout to meet Leicester’s £80m valuation of the England international defender has all but scuppered the transfer. Alas, once a die is cast it cannot be un-cast, so it would be in the best interest of all parties to try to find a club for Maguire which suits his ambitions and has the wherewithal to meet the perfectly reasonable asking price. Let’s take a look at the possible destinations!
Why it’s a good fit: Los Blancos will be eager to challenge for the top of the La Liga table after a disappointing 3rd place finish behind Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. While losing Cristiano Ronaldo obviously cost them, it was the defense that really let them down. They shipped 46 goals last season, good for just joint 7th-best in the league. Walking red card and erstwhile Mohammed-Salah-assaulter Sergio Ramos is clearly past his sell-by date, leaving Real with a huge need for a huge forehead.
Why it won’t happen: Two words: Gareth Bale. While Bale is universally regarded as the greatest non-Leicester footballer on the planet (editor’s note: I approve this message), Real manager and Final Fantasy IX character Zinedine Zidane wants the Welsh wonder off his payroll. Given that Bale’s weekly wage packet has to be expressed in exponents, this is not going to happen until the sun is a cold, dark lump of coal.
Why it’s a good fit: With Neymar doing everything within his considerable power to force an exit from the French capitol, PSG will soon be flush with cash and looking to find a long-term replacement for the aging Thiago Silva. Maguire’s swashbuckling runs forward and fancy feet would be right at home with the style of play preferred by Les Rouge et Bleu.
Why it won’t happen: PSG currently employ Kylian Mbappé, Ángel Di María, Julian Draxler, Marquinhos, Marco Verratti, Christopher Nkunku, and...you get the idea. They have some of the greatest names in all the sporting world. Try plugging “Harry Maguire” into that list. I love Harry, but I just can’t see his name on the back of the red and blue jersey at Le Parc des Princes.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Why it’s a good fit: Zenit are by far the wealthiest club in their league, but their profile outside of Russia is minimal and they’re hungry to increase it. Unlike United, Zenit are perennial Champions League qualifiers and adding Harry Maguire would be an enormous step up in terms of visibility west of the Volkhov river and in their prospects in European play.
Why it won’t happen: St. Petersburg is one of the oldest cultural centers in all of Europe. The nightlife in vibrant, the people are young and fashionable, and the architecture is unparalleled. In short, St Petersburg is too posh for Maguire, who has his heart set on Manchester.
Shandong Luneng Taishan
Why it’s a good fit: The ambitious Chinese outfit has splashed the cash for Premier League stars in the past and there’s no reason to think they couldn’t succeed where United have failed. Both Marouane Fellaini and Graziano Pelle have found a new home and an impressive payday on China’s east coast. Curiously enough, both players are 6’4” which is exactly the same height as Maguire. Harry would fit right in to the squad and be able to use the same tailor as Fellaini and Pelle. It’s a match made in heaven.
Why it won’t happen: I can think of no reason why this wouldn’t happen. Shandong even wear orange kits, the same colour as Maguire wore with Hull City, so we know he’ll look good.
So, Shandong it is then. We’ll miss you, Harry, but we won’t deny you the opportunity to play for a huge club. Or, as they say in Shandong: 我們想為這篇文章道歉。 我們保證，下次我們會做得更好。