Liverpool took a huge risk in 2018 when they signed Virgil van Dijk and Harry Maguire proves it. The Manchester United defender is struggling.
Harry Maguire eclipsed Virgil van Dijk as the world’s most expensive defender back in 2019. Manchester United paid £80m to Leicester City, beating the £75m Liverpool paid Southampton.
But Maguire is not playing like the world’s most expensive defender. In fact, he’s having a very tough time of it right now. The 27-year-old keeps making errors, the latest of which was a red card against Denmark for England.
But in truth, he’s struggled all season with United. Maguire was particularly poor against Tottenham Hotspur and that was just the latest difficult display.
The reality, though, is that this is normal.
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Just because you pay a huge amount of money for someone, doesn’t guarantee they’ll be worth it. It also doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be consistently brilliant forever.
It merely means you’re securing a player you believe to be quite special. That’s what United did with Maguire and what Liverpool did with Van Dijk.
The two transfers are remarkably similar, too. Both were made to glue together a leaky defence. Both broke the transfer record for a defender. And both came from midtable Premier League clubs.
Both, then, were huge risks. All or nothing approaches to fixing worrying problems. The difference is that one worked flawlessly and one hasn’t.
But both carried risk. Van Dijk may not have worked out and left Liverpool £75m in the hole. He was, much like Maguire, stepping up to a higher level and into a team that couldn’t defend very well.
As it turned out, Liverpool absolutely nailed their risk. And they should get all the praise in the world for that. It was a calculated risk, after all, as they picked out Van Dijk as the one and settled for nothing else.
What they got was a player who was absolutely worthy of being the most expensive defender in the world.
And as we see with Maguire, that isn’t an easy judgment to make. The Englishman is a good defender but far from the world’s best – even if United paid as though he was.