Phil Neville has called for the football community to boycott social media for six months after the latest instance of high-profile racist abuse.

England women's manager Neville was reacting to Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba being targeted online after he had a penalty saved in Monday's 1-1 Premier League draw at Wolves.

Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham and Reading's Yakou Meite have also been subjected to similar abuse over the past week following their own penalty failures.

United issued a statement branding the slurs directed towards Pogba as "disgusting" and called for social media companies to take action as they work to identify the perpetrators in this instance.

However, Neville has little faith in the likes of Twitter and Instagram making a meaningful difference and called on those within the game to take a stand.

"I've lost total faith in whoever runs these social media departments, so I just wonder whether now as a football community, in terms of really sending a powerful message, is: come off social media," he said at a news conference ahead of his team's matches against Belgium and Norway.

"Six months – let's come off social media. Let's see the effect that it has on these social media companies, whether they're really going to do something about it."

Neville also spoke out last October after former England and Chelsea star Karen Carney received rape and death threats on Instagram.

"We talk to them all the time because my players get that kind of abuse all the time, whether it’s racist, whether it’s sexist, whether it’s homophobic,” he continued.

"They get that kind of abuse. Nothing gets done about it, but we experienced it earlier in the season.

"It's not going away, I think there’s some fantastic campaigns, initiatives, messaging that goes out, particularly in the Premier League, through the FA, about trying to stamp out racism.

"And at times, you feel as if you're making inroads, and then you get probably a massive reminder that actually we’re probably not.

"It’s a problem not just in football – it’s a problem in society, but football now is at the forefront of everybody’s minds in terms of, we’ve got the power to do something about it. I think the football community will.

"I think we try, but it’s getting to the point now where I think we need to make a real strong message, and I say to every single footballer out there, and to every club, and to the PFA: why don't we make a big stand? Come off social media. Boycott all social media now and see if that makes a big enough impact."

Pogba's United team-mate Harry Maguire called for all social media accounts to be verified and Neville suggested he would support such an approach.

"Maguire said this morning about being verified, giving passport details and addresses to be hold accountable for posting such disgusting things," he added.

"You can be an egg on Twitter and no one knows who you are."

Anti-discrimination pressure group Kick It Out has lamented the "increasingly predictable" nature of online attacks.

"This is a call to action – we want to know what they [social media companies] are going to do to tackle this insidious problem," a Kick It Out statement read.

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has urged social media platforms to strengthen identification protocols after "pathetic trolls" aimed racial abuse at Paul Pogba.

United midfielder Pogba became the latest subject of discriminatory posts online after failing to convert a penalty in the 1-1 draw against Wolves at Molineux on Monday.

Chelsea youngster Tammy Abraham and Reading striker Yakou Meite faced similar abuse within the past week.

United described the offensive comments as "disgusting" and called on social media companies to take action, supporting the public stance taken by anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out.

England international Maguire took to Twitter to recommend a stricter authentication process for users.

"Disgusting," Maguire wrote. "Social media need to do something about it. 

"Every account that is opened should be verified by a passport/driving licence. Stop these pathetic trolls making numerous accounts to abuse people."

In a statement, Kick It Out shone a light on the growing volume of "unwarranted and vile racist abuse" directed towards players.

"The number of posts such as these since the start of the season highlights how discriminatory abuse online is out of control," the statement read.

"Without immediate and the strongest possible action these cowardly acts will continue to grow."

Marcus Rashford echoed the sentiment as he backed team-mate Pogba.

Tagging Twitter, the forward posted: "Enough now, this needs to stop. Manchester United is a family. Paul Pogba is a huge part of that family. You attack him you attack us all."

Harry Maguire has already made a big impact at Manchester United on and off the field, according to boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United agreed a reported £80million deal with Leicester City earlier this month to make Maguire the most expensive centre-back of all time.

The England international impressed on his debut last weekend as he helped his side keep a clean sheet in their 4-0 win against Chelsea.

Speaking ahead of Monday's trip to Wolves, Solskjaer said he has been equally as impressed with Maguire's influence on the training ground during his first couple of weeks at the club.

"He’s very level-headed and is just as composed off the pitch as on it," Solskjaer said at Friday's news conference.

"He is experienced and a big presence around the place, always smiling, a personality you like to have around and a cool head at the back is important.

"Level-headed defenders who are not emotionally affected are great for a manager and the team. He’s been very good to have around."

United have momentum on their side ahead of their meeting with Wolves after winning all six pre-season matches, including a penalty shoot-out victory against AC Milan, which they followed up with three points against Chelsea.

Solskjaer pointed to his side's improved fitness levels as a key factor in their turnaround in form, having ended last season with one win in their final seven Premier League matches.

"Chelsea outran us quite a lot in April, now we’ve outran them," he said. "That’s a good shift for us but it’s not just about fitness. Fitness is important but we also have quality.

"We’ve had a good pre-season, our fitness is better and we’ve got a young team that will give us energy. Towards the end of last season we were mentally tired but we are now mentally fresh.

"It’s a big period still for us, more or less pre-season. We’ve got a couple more weeks after this [when] we can put loads of work on the training ground."

The trip to Molineux provides United with an opportunity to exact some revenge following away defeats to Wolves in the FA Cup and Premier League in the final two months of last season.

"I feel like I’m going home because we've been there so often lately," Solskjaer joked. "They were tough games and Wolves are a hard team to break down as they defend deep and don’t give you a lot of spaces.

"They can counter-attack and their set-pieces are always dangerous.

"We’ve been looking at the games last season to see if there’s anything different to do this time, but our form, our attitude and the mood after the Chelsea win is great so we go into the game confident."

Manchester United were made to wait but they got their man in Harry Maguire, who left Leicester City in an £80million deal.

The focus on the huge fee was then eased by the defender's excellent debut in a 4-0 win over Chelsea.

And United fans will be even more delighted to read reports Maguire turned down their city rivals and a massive contract offer in order to head to Old Trafford.



The Premier League transfer window has closed but the talk does not stop.

According to the Daily Star, England defender Maguire was offered £278,000 per week by City – worth £70m over five years – but opted instead to sign for United.

The deal would have made the former Leicester man the best paid defender in world football, whereas his contract at Old Trafford is said to be worth almost £100,000 less per week.

Maguire reportedly rejected the deal because he had already decided to join United – news that will only further endear him to Red Devils supporters.


- United may not have needed to match City's Maguire offer, but the Daily Mail report Alexis Sanchez is on £560,000 per week, having opted for the red half of Manchester. These wages explain just why United have not been able to get rid of the Chilean in this transfer window. Neither Juventus, Inter nor Napoli can afford Sanchez.

- Meanwhile, details continue to emerge from Barcelona's meeting with Paris Saint-Germain regarding Neymar. According to Le Parisien, Arturo Vidal formed part of the Blaugrana's offer - but PSG were not impressed by a package including the former Bayern Munich man, Philippe Coutinho and less than €60m.


- While some of Europe's top clubs could yet make late moves, it appears Nice will be one of the busier outfits. L'Equipe believe they are looking to bring in both Jean-Kevin Augustin from RB Leipzig and Adam Ounas from Napoli. The former would cost €20m, while the latter deal would be a loan with an option for the same amount.

Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk insisted his £75million price tag was never an issue after the world-record fee for a defender was broken earlier this month.

Van Dijk made the move from Southampton to Liverpool in January 2018, the huge transfer fee initially raising eyebrows.

But the Netherlands international helped the Premier League giants win the Champions League last season and has emerged as a Ballon d'Or contender.

However, the world-record fee was broken after Manchester United paid Leicester City £80m for England centre-back Harry Maguire earlier this month.

Van Dijk, whose side face Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul on Wednesday, played down the significance of the fees.

"It wasn't a big issue for me. It's something you don't have an influence on," he told a news conference.

"It happens, it's the market and the only thing you can do is put your head down and start playing, give everything for the team.

"That's what I did and it worked so far, I'll just try to keep doing that, keep progressing and be a better player."

European champions Liverpool will go into their clash against Chelsea as favourites, having opened their Premier League season with a 4-1 win over Norwich City as Frank Lampard's men were humbled 4-0 by United.

Van Dijk is eager for Jurgen Klopp's side to win the trophy for Liverpool for the first time since 2005.

"I think it could work in both favours, they know us, we know them, but the most important thing is it's one game, one final, anything could happen," he said.

"We know at the start of the season everyone's coming back from having a break. We are ready, we want to win that trophy and we're going to do everything that's possible to hold the trophy."

Jose Mourinho wishes Harry Maguire had been in a Manchester United shirt during his time in charge at Old Trafford.

Maguire was named man of the match on his United debut, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side rode out a sometimes-tricky opening 45 minutes to run out 4-0 winners over Chelsea.

Mourinho watched his former clubs go to work in his new role as a Sky Sports pundit and was full of praise for England international Maguire, who he reportedly courted a year ago.

"I think he fully deserved [to be] man of the match, he was as solid as a rock," he said.

"The tactical knowledge, the personality, that sense of reading the game, being alert all the time and having the confidence to play.

"He was fantastic. I think he did [give United confidence]. A team can be very dangerous in attack, but if you feel that the defensive mistake is around the corner, it takes away the confidence and you do not play as well as you can.

"When you feel there is something that allows you to play you are much more confident to do it.

"Maguire was good, [Victor] Lindelof was good. As I always said, Lindelof can be a very good player. With Maguire, I think they can be a very good couple."

Asked whether Maguire was the player he had been looking for before his Old Trafford reign crumbled, Mourinho chuckled and replied: "He arrived one year later!"

Marcus Rashford also won his former manager's approval after a two-goal display.

The England international converted Paul Pogba's superb through-ball having already won and dispatched a first-half penalty.

Mourinho reflected on Rashford's haul of 10 goals from 2018-19 and what he must do to help fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku's departure to Inter.

"That [10 goals] is not enough, he has to score more goals. Especially without Lukaku on the team," Mourinho said.

"He will be on the pitch all the time and I believe he has the qualities to be better and better.

"He is not just a kid with potential but a kid with ambition. He wants to improve, he wants to work.

"I believe this season he has a big opportunity to be a better player and score more goals."

Mourinho added: "Against a team like Chelsea today he is very dangerous. Against teams with lower blocks, more physical, more pressure on the ball and less possibilities for transition, I feel it is more difficult."

Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both make their Manchester United debuts against Chelsea at Old Trafford, while Frank Lampard has selected Tammy Abraham to lead the line with Mason Mount also starting.

Centre-back Maguire joined United on Monday, costing £80million from Leicester City - a fee that makes him the most expensive defender of all time.

And unsurprisingly he instantly slots into United's defence alongside Victor Lindelof, while Wan-Bissaka – a £50m acquisition from Crystal Palace – starts at right-back having impressed during pre-season.

With club captain Ashley Young on the bench, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has chosen David de Gea to wear the armband ahead of Paul Pogba, who starts in midfield alongside Scott McTominay and Andreas Pereira.

The Brazil international gets the nod instead of Nemanja Matic, while there are no surprises in the front three of Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Mason Greenwood, 17, is the striker in reserve after Romelu Lukaku's move to Inter.

A new-look Chelsea will be spearheaded by Abraham, who scored 26 goals in the Championship on loan at Aston Villa last season.

Another academy product in Mount also begins the match, having impressed under Lampard at Derby County throughout the 2018-19 campaign.

N'Golo Kante is kept on the bench, having only recently returned from a hamstring injury, while Kurt Zouma partners Andreas Christensen at centre-back following the deadline day departure of David Luiz to Arsenal.

New signing Christian Pulisic's Premier League career begins among the substitutes, with Pedro, Ross Barkley and Mount expected to provide the service for Abraham.

Harry Maguire effectively became Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's number one transfer target after Manchester United faced Leicester City in February.

United boss Solskjaer says the England centre-back showed he could become the man around whom to build a revamped defence after the Red Devils' 1-0 Premier League win at the King Power Stadium last season.

Maguire, who joined for a reported £80million fee on August 5, is in line for his United debut against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Solskjaer says the 26-year-old has already had an impact on the dressing room and expects him to give his side "another dimension" - although he stopped short of comparing the player to Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk.

"I'm delighted we have got Harry in because he's going to be great for this club," Solskjaer said.

"He was always my number one target. I more or less made my mind up when we played Leicester that if it was possible to get him, we should at least try. He is so composed on the ball and he gives the team another dimension.

"He has already shown what a presence he will be and what an impact he will have in the squad. Harry is a leader, an established international, a goal threat and a very, very good defender.   

"I don't want to compare us to Liverpool or Harry to Van Dijk, but I know Harry is going to have a massive impact on us, yes."

Maguire was one of three United transfers in the close season, with Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka also moving to Old Trafford.

The arrival of Maguire and two 21-year-olds, coupled with United's use of youngsters including Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes in pre-season, highlights Solskjaer's commitment to constructing a side based on youth.

"You can call it a gamble. I am just staying true to what I believe in," he said. "I believe in this way of managing a football club.

"I am paid to manage for the club and it is not just about me getting results now to get my reputation. It is about the club going forward in the right direction.

"If we don't make these decisions now, they will have to be done in 12 months or 18 months or 24 months because at some point these kids will have to be a part of Man United. That has always been the case.

"That is the upside and downside of who you want to keep. For us, to give our kids the best chance, we decided this is the right way."

Harry Maguire could debut for Manchester United when Chelsea visit Old Trafford in a blockbuster conclusion to the first weekend of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has two new defenders at his disposal and will strongly consider utilising both against a team that scored often in pre-season.

Channelling that freewheeling energy into a competitive environment is the challenge for Chelsea, who have become unshackled from Maurizio Sarri's strict playing style.

In his place is Frank Lampard, once a player that relished big matches and now a head coach seeking to re-energise the club at which he enjoyed his greatest successes.



United and Chelsea have not faced each other on the opening weekend of the season since 2004, when Jose Mourinho began his Premier League career with a 1-0 victory courtesy of an Eidur Gudjohnsen goal.

Lampard played in that match and will hope to emulate Mourinho's winning start, both at the top level of English football and at Old Trafford.

The former Red Devils boss is one of six men to have guided Chelsea to an away victory over United in the Premier League.

Five of them - including Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benitez - did so at the first attempt, and pre-season results suggest Lampard has constructed a team talented enough to trouble Solskjaer's side.

The Europa League winners scored 13 times over the course of their final four friendlies, notching twice against Barcelona.

An in-form United boast their own threats going forward with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial seemingly enjoying a quick, counter-attacking style made possible by Romelu Lukaku's move to Inter.

How, though, will the defences the hold up? Two individuals with plenty to prove could have a major say.


Ed Woodward, United's executive vice-chairman, reportedly parted with £80million to grant Solskjaer's wish for a reliable, ball-playing centre-back capable of slotting straight into the starting XI.

Chelsea, in contrast, will invest renewed faith in Kurt Zouma, their hands partially tied by a transfer embargo and the sale of David Luiz to Arsenal.

France international Zouma made positive strides on loan at Everton last season, tallying 17 more interceptions than Maguire despite playing only one extra Premier League match.

Maguire's acclaimed ability on the ball did shine through in his final campaign at Leicester City, the 26-year-old attempting 21 dribbles to Zouma's nine and completing 16, while registering a passing accuracy of 85.6 per cent.

United should also benefit from a new sense of security when defending crosses: Maguire won 78.1 per cent of his aerial duels last term, far superior to Zouma's 65.3 per cent.


United built confidence ahead of the new season by winning all six of their warm-up games.

Solskjaer needs that kind of form if those who doubt the decision to hand him a full-time deal are to be silenced.

Critics emerged after results turned sour following the Norwegian's successful spell as interim manager, beyond which he won just two of 10 matches.

Chelsea ended the season on a high, thrashing Arsenal in the Europa League final, but seemed unperturbed when Sarri left for Serie A champions Juventus.

Lampard came in with minimal managerial experience on his side but the pre-season signs have been generally positive.

The Stamford Bridge favourite secured four wins from seven and extracted promising performances from Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Christian Pulisic, among others.


Bobby Charlton scored a hat-trick in a 5-2 victory for United the last time they hosted Chelsea on the opening day of the season, in 1958.

Premier League encounters have proved more competitive.

United, the 13-time champions, have lost more games (18) and conceded more goals (71) against Chelsea than any other team in the competition, despite going undefeated in their past six meetings at Old Trafford.

Of greater concern for the Blues is that their opponents are unbeaten in 25 of their past 26 matches played at home on the opening weekend of a top-flight campaign.

Brendan Rodgers says Leicester City were priced out of buying a replacement for Harry Maguire, who has earned praise from his former manager for his conduct while he waited to join Manchester United.

Maguire became the world's most expensive defender on Monday when United's reported bid of £80million was accepted by Leicester, ending a transfer saga that lasted throughout the transfer window.

City spent the final few days of the window looking to fill the void left by Maguire, with Bournemouth's Nathan Ake and James Tarkowski of Burnley said to have been their two main targets.

But Rodgers claimed the Foxes were quoted prices that did not reflect the value of the club's targets and is hoping others already in the squad can now step up.

"We looked but the market proved too difficult. But we're equally comfortable working with the players we have," Rodgers said.

"It was always going to be a very difficult market. But the club prepared for that eventuality a year ago by bringing in two outstanding young centre-halves in Caglar [Soyuncu] and Filip [Benkovic].

"We knew we had those guys there, along with Jonny Evans, who is a top centre-half. Wes Morgan as well, who is a great leader and great captain."

Maguire had been the subject of intense interest from United prior to the big-money deal going through this week, while Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola also admitted to being a big fan of the England international.

Speaking ahead of Leicester's opening Premier League match of the season against Wolves on Sunday, Rodgers was keen to thank the outgoing defender for the professionalism he showed in the final stages of his Foxes stint.

"We lost a very important player in Harry, who was a very good man," he said.

"What Harry did over the course of the summer was show how to conduct yourself with professionalism and respect for your club and your team-mates. He showed that good guys get what they want in the end."

New Manchester United signing Harry Maguire and the recently injured Paul Pogba are set to start Sunday's Premier League opener against Chelsea, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed.

Maguire joined United on Monday for a reported £80million from Leicester City following a drawn-out transfer saga.

His signing was made all the more necessary by a serious knee injury suffered by Eric Bailly at the end of July, ruling him out for up to five months.

Meanwhile, Pogba's future has remained somewhat uncertain throughout the close season, with speculation suggesting he missed Saturday's friendly against AC Milan in an attempt to force through a move away from Old Trafford, rather than the "back spasm" Solskjaer said he was suffering from.

Nevertheless, Pogba is fit again and likely to start against Chelsea - Maguire could too.

Speaking to MUTV, Solskjaer said: "Harry has impressed me, very much so. He has come in as a presence.

"He is taller and bigger than I thought. He has come in as a real plus. He will have an impact on the rest of the boys.

"Harry is ready to play. I am sure he will put himself up, when I ask him on Sunday, if he is available, because he has played many games for Leicester over the pre-season. He has trained well and he has looked sharp when he has been here.

"Paul joined in, actually, the day after [the Milan friendly]. I wasn't going to risk him, travelling down with the flight, but he joined in the game against Blackburn the day after, behind closed doors here.

"He is available. All of the boys are fit. It was always our aim to get to the starting line with as many players as fit as possible. Of course, Eric's injury is bad news, but the rest of them are available."

Signings have been made and new managers are now in charge at some clubs, but how much will actually change in the Premier League this season?

The two teams who finished at the top seem nigh-on impossible to shift, at least according to the statistical evidence compiled after an incredible 2018-19 title race.

Champions Manchester City and runners-up Liverpool lost five games between them as they battled for the trophy until the final day, leaving others trailing well behind.

Will the gap widen with Eden Hazard torn from Chelsea, or can Manchester United close in after laying stronger defensive foundations?

We assess those questions and more in the Opta data preview for 2019-20.


City and Liverpool set to dominate again

It will take something bordering on sorcery to prevent City and Liverpool from retaining their places in the top two.

The masterminds behind their success, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, are the only current Premier League bosses to gain more than two points per game on average (2.42 for the former, 2.06 for the latter).

Klopp's competitive win percentage with Liverpool (57.2) even surpasses his level while in charge at Borussia Dortmund (56.4).

Moving to England has not been quite so successful in terms of victories for Guardiola, who won 75.2 per cent of matches during his time at Bayern Munich. However, his City win rate (73 per cent) still exceeds what he achieved with Barcelona (72.5 per cent).

Consider also that both sides start games incredibly well - Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah opened the scoring a combined 18 times last term, while Sergio Aguero did so on eight occasions - and it becomes tough to see who else is going to keep pace with them.

Chelsea face huge challenge to fill Hazard void

The acquisition of winger Christian Pulisic was a canny bit of planning on Chelsea's part, but there is simply no easy way to replace someone like Hazard.

Now at Real Madrid, the Belgium star left a lasting impression in his final season at Stamford Bridge, leading the Premier League for assists (15) and goal involvements (31) and finished second for chances created (98 - behind only James Maddison's tally of 100 for Leicester City). No other Chelsea player cracked the top 20 in any of those categories.

Hazard's 16 league goals accounted for more than a quarter of the Blues' total as a team and were directly worth 13 points, a figure only bettered by the 19 points which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang earned for Arsenal.

Frank Lampard has no choice but to create a better balance of responsibility among the attackers he has in his squad at Stamford Bridge.

Can Maguire and Wan-Bissaka fix United's porous defence?

How do you solve a problem like owning the leakiest defence among the teams who finished in the top nine of the Premier League? Throw money at it!

Well that is how Manchester United have approached the issue after splashing out over £100million in the transfer window.

Their spending is understandable after conceding 54 goals in 2018-19, a record for the club in the Premier League and the most they have shipped in a league campaign since 1978-79 (63).

First to arrive was right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who ranked second in the division for interceptions (84) and third in tackles (129) at Crystal Palace last term.

Then followed Harry Maguire, who became the world's most expensive defender when joining from Leicester City. The England international will go some distance to justifying that fee if United are to emulate the Foxes, who dropped only three points from winning positions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has his own part to play; United led the way in terms of starting XI changes last season (131), which feels like a recipe for disaster.

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis said Manchester United signing Harry Maguire is only worth €25million as he valued star defender Kalidou Koulibaly at €250m.

United made Maguire the most expensive defender in history after reportedly paying Leicester City a world-record £80m (€86m) for the England international centre-back.

The Red Devils had been linked to Napoli's Koulibaly at the start of the transfer window, while De Laurentiis revealed in January that the Serie A club had rejected a €105m offer from an unnamed team.

Discussing the transfer market and Maguire's move to Old Trafford, De Laurentiis told ESPN: "The problem of the cost of players is from England because they gross the most amount of money, more than Spain, Italy, France and Germany.

"If a club grosses £800m, he has no problem to offer £80-90m for one player. There is not a real and fair competition between England and other countries."

"Koulibaly has a release clause of €150m," De Laurentiis added.

"In England, you know, they can spend €93m on a player that I would pay a maximum of €25-30m for. So, if Maguire costs €93m, then Koulibaly is worth €250m?"

Napoli – who finished runners-up to Juventus last season – have been linked to PSV's Hirving Lozano and Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez.

Lozano is reportedly close to joining Napoli, who are still trying to negotiate a deal with Madrid for James as LaLiga side Atletico Madrid circle.

"We've been following Lozano since last January," De Laurentiis said. "We know very well that he can be a good buy for Napoli. We've also been following James and others, like the Brazilian Everton [Soares].

"What I like about Lozano is that he's still young, unlike James who has more experience and has played under [head coach Carlo] Ancelotti twice.

"For that reason, he offers guarantees. We must consider who can help the team the most."

Manchester United "caved in" during negotiations to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester City, according to football finance expert Kieran Maguire.

England centre-back Harry Maguire agreed a six-year deal at Old Trafford, joining Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side for a reported fee of £80million - a world record for a defender.

The transfer sparked widespread debate about the size of the fee, with Liverpool's £75m centre-back Virgil van Dijk warning "the price comes with pressure".

Kieran Maguire, senior teacher in accountancy at the University of Liverpool, believes Leicester made the most of having the upper hand in talks.

"In terms of the price paid for Harry Maguire, Leicester were in an excellent negotiating position," he told Omnisport.

"They know Manchester United are desperate to get back into the Champions League positions, Harry Maguire was on a long-term contract, Leicester didn't need to sell.

"Therefore, they were able to reject all of the initial offers and hold back until we're nearly at the end of the transfer window, and United caved in."

Kieran Maguire thinks huge fees for defensive players will become increasingly common as clubs use detailed analysis to ascertain the value of having a solid rearguard that can also help build attacks.

He said: "Many companies these days are using big data, and they can see that the value of having a solid defence can make a significant difference to your end of season haul of points.

"As a consequence of that they've started to invest in defenders, when historically the focus would have been on attacking players.

"I think what we've seen over the course of the last couple of years is that the price of goalkeepers has gone up as clubs have realised that actually they want to play 11-man football, so they're using goalkeepers who are competent with their feet.

"But also they're looking for defenders who can bring the ball out, who can link up with the rest of the team as opposed to being merely a player who could clear the ball. So therefore somebody like Harry Maguire, who is a ball-playing defender, carries a premium price."

Harry Maguire has been handed the No.5 shirt at Manchester United and a famous former owner of the jersey, Rio Ferdinand, is sure the England defender will thrive despite the expectations at Old Trafford.

After a saga lasting for the much of the close season, Maguire's move to United was finally confirmed on Monday.

The former Hull City and Sheffield United centre-back is reported to have become the world's most expensive defender, with United said to have paid Leicester City an £80million transfer fee.

Despite the pressure that comes with such a fee, United great Ferdinand believes Maguire will more than live up to the billing.

"Is there pressure? Yes. Is there expectation from across the world? Definitely. Are all eyes on me [after being the subject of a record-breaking transfer]? 100 per cent," Ferdinand, who became the most expensive British footballer when he signed for United from Leeds United in 2002, wrote on Instagram.

"Will your team-mates be expecting big things? Of course. Will people be expecting a massive change in the team's fortune? Most definitely.

"These were the feelings and questions that were surrounding me when signing for the great club United.

"He's grown into someone who can lead and be a leader of men, and shown at both ends of the pitch he can be effective.

"I think something United have needed defensively in recent years is a big character who can take on the responsibility of leading from the back and, 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 No.5 shirt of United and hope he can help bring back success to our club."


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