The saga of Manchester United probably signing a new centre-back is one that has extended throughout the entire transfer window. And while the rumours would probably end once the current window closes next week, we still have enough time to discuss on potential upgrades.
The Red Devils have been linked with several players to re-inforce the centre-back position. That might sound off since United already has five centre-backs on the current squad (Victor Lindelöf, Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling), but the team needs an upgrade. And the two names have been linked of late with the Old Trafford squad are Harry Maguire and Toby Alderweireld. Both are experienced at the Premier League and would definitively make United’s defence better.
But how does these two players compare against each other? Let’s take a look at the stats to find out.
As famous rapper 50 Cent once said, “money makes the world go around as the world turns”. Well, in the case of football players, that’s no different. More often than not, teams turn into the direction of the cheapest player when looking at two similar alternatives. And if we compare Alderweireld and Maguire, then we can there are differences when it comes to the transfer fee and the market value involving both players.
Per Transfermarkt, Maguire (25 years old) is valued at £35 million, but Leicester have already established they will only accept offers in the £60M-£70M range. Meanwhile, Alderweireld (29 years old)’s value is at £40M, but the Spurs want around £55M for him. So while Maguire would is younger, he would also be a bit more expensive due to his upside. On the other hand, Alderweireld is a player firmly on his prime years. And we know Mourinho prefers established players instead of young ones. Just ask Anthony Martial.
Appearances last season
There is a big difference here but it was mostly due to injuries sustained by Alderweireld. The Spurs centre-back registered 14 Premier League appearances, four in the UEFA Champions League, two in the FA Cup and one in the EFL Cup; during that span he couldn’t score, delivered one assist, picked up four yellow cards and tallied 1,471 minutes of action. However, he was injured between November 5, 2017 and April 14, 2018, missing a grand total of 23 games across all competitions.
Meanwhile, Maguire started all 38 Premier League matches for Leicester, and also added three contests in each the EFL Cup and FA Cup. During those 44 appearances, the towering centre-back registered two goals, three assists, nine yellow cards and 4,011 minutes.
There is no question Maguire wins the battle here. Despite being only 25 years old, the Leicester star centre-back has years left before hitting his prime. We know central defenders tend to peak in the 30-33 year-old range, so United would be getting a defender with world-class upside, but that has several things yet to learn. He did took a major step forward in his development last season, and has already earned 12 caps (with one goal) for England. He is trending on the right direction.
Meanwhile, Alderweireld has won 83 caps (three goals) with the Belgium national team and has also featured a grand total of 108 Premier League appearances throughout his career, plus 128 in the Eredivisie and 27 in each the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Sure, Alderweireld might have a bit of upside left in him. But he is pretty much what he is right now. He is on the verge of entering his prime years, and as we stated above, Mourinho loves those players. Plus, United need an experienced defender on the squad.
Maguire seems like the best fit on a long-term basis. He doesn’t have a injury history, is four years younger, and has far more upside.
However, we have to adjust to what Manchester United – and probably Jose Mourinho – want and need. And considering the team’s need for an experienced player who can step up and contribute right away, Alderweireld is the better alternative.