Erik Ten Hag tells Harry Maguire he can leave if he doesn't want to fight for place

Harry Maguire of England on the ball during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag warned Harry Maguire he will not stroll back into the Red Devils’ back four.

The £85million central defender put in an array of very positive performances during Gareth Southgate’s side’s run to the World Cup quarter-finals. He started every match for the Three Lions, forming a very impressive defensive partnership with Manchester City ace John Stones.

Considering the immense criticism he was facing in the build-up to the tournament, it would be very fair to say he managed to prove a lot of his doubters wrong. However, that does not mean Ten Hag will automatically grant him a place alongside Raphael Varane or Lisandro Martinez in the backline.

“Only when he doesn’t want to be in these circumstances any more,” Ten Hag said, when asked if there is a chance that Maguire could depart the club. “Until that moment, I am happy with him.”

While the former Leicester City defender has had to battle a hamstring injury this season, he has still only made four Premier League appearances out of a possible 14. Summer signing Martinez and French defender Varane appear to be Ten Hag’s preferred partnership in the back four. Nevertheless, Ten Hag insisted Maguire does have the quality to star at the highest level for United.

“I can only battle this after being asked many times if he is good enough,” Ten Hag added. “It is clear he is good enough to play at the highest level. Then it is up to him to show that confidence on the pitch and he didn’t show that in all the games. We want him to bring that back to Manchester with him so he can bring it on the pitch for United.

“I’m sure he has the potential to play in our style and fit into our system. He had a period in Manchester where he performed badly and then, of course, there are difficulties but when he is confident in himself, he will put that on the pitch.

“When he is working hard you will get that confidence and you are seeing that with the way he was playing for England. I expect from him, the team knows what they expect from him. If he does that he will be a great player for us.”

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