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

Erik ten Hag has warned Manchester United defender Harry Maguire he will not stroll back into the club’s back four.

The defender put in an array of positive displays during Gareth Southgate’s side’s run to the World Cup quarter-finals. He started every match for England, forming a very impressive defensive partnership with Manchester City star John Stones.

Considering the huge criticism he was facing in the build-up to the tournament, it would be very fair to say he was able to prove a lot of his doubters wrong.

But, that does not mean Ten Hag will automatically guarantee 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 star has had to battle a hamstring injury this campaign, he has still only played four Premier League games out of a possible 14.

Summer signing Martinez and Varane appear to be Ten Hag’s preferred partnership in the back four. Nevertheless, Ten Hag said Maguire does have the quality to play 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.

“When he is playing with his confidence like now he is a massively important player for us and that is what everyone expects. That’s what Harry expects from himself. He has that high standard, he wants to play at the highest level, he wants to lead the defensive line, so it is up to him.

“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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