Harry Maguire backed by Giorgio Chiellini and is ‘Manchester United’s best defender’, says Gabby Agbonlahor, who claims under-fire centre-back will start for England at the World Cup

    Harry Maguire has been described as ‘Manchester United’s best defender’ and has also received the backing of Italy legend Giorgio Chiellini ahead of the World Cup in Qatar.

    So often the target of ridicule and abuse from supporters, Maguire’s place in the England squad this winter has been placed in some doubt given his reduced role in the Red Devils team this season.

    Maguire does not look like regaining his United starting place any time soon

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    Maguire does not look like regaining his United starting place any time soon

    After a poor end to last term, Maguire was subjected to boos even from fans abroad during pre-season as supporters piled on the centre-back in stadiums and on social media.

    He has been sidelined by Erik ten Hag too, with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane the new United manager’s chosen starting duo for most of the campaign so far.

    Maguire has made just three appearances in United’s opening six games. He started and played 90 minutes in back-to-back defeats to Brighton and Brentford to begin the campaign, and has been benched ever since.

    Although Gareth Southgate was persistently backed the defender, his lack of minutes in the Premier League means his place in England’s starting XI could be under threat.

    But Maguire has received a timely boost in confidence from Italian stalwart Chiellini, who insists the centre-back has been harshly criticised and remains a ‘key player’ for his country.

    “I am sad for Maguire’s situation because he is a good player,” Chiellini said in an interview with The Times.

    Maguire’s England place has been called into question

    GETTY

    Maguire’s England place has been called into question

    But he has the backing of Euro 2020 winner and Italy great Chiellini

    GETTY

    But he has the backing of Euro 2020 winner and Italy great Chiellini

    “They [Manchester United] require too much of him. Just because they paid £80million for him, he has to be the best in the world every match? It’s not right. The value of the market is dependent on many aspects you can’t control. It’s not your fault.

    “Him and [John] Stones are a good duo. OK, Maguire maybe is not Rio Ferdinand but he’s good enough. 

    “With this situation it’s not helping [England] to do the best. If you want to win the World Cup it’s impossible to do it with some problems in the key players, and for sure Maguire is one of the key players of the team.

    “English players are really pressured by all the media and fans, so it’s not easy.”

    talkSPORT pundit Gabby Agbonlahor continued the praise of Maguire, and went so far as to say he is above the likes of Martinez and Varane as the ‘best defender’ in the Manchester United squad.

    And he insists the constant pile-on the 29-year-old from fans in stadiums and online is unfair.

    Speaking on the talkSPORT Breakfast, the former Aston Villa captain said: “On social media you see these reels they make and it’s only the bad parts of his game, where he’s kicked the ball out of play, he got megged in the rondo or he gets outpaced by a striker, and it takes off.

    “But you can make the same sort of video for every player in the Premier League!

    “For me, he’s been a scapegoat for Manchester United. Yes Martinez has done well and Varane has done well, but Harry Maguire is Manchester United’s best defender. I rate him highly.

    “I really hope in these next two England games he proves these critics wrong and puts in good performances.

    Maguire was one of England’s key men at the Euros as they reached the final

    GETTY

    Maguire was one of England’s key men at the Euros as they reached the final

    But he has had to sit on the bench for Man United this season

    GETTY

    But he has had to sit on the bench for Man United this season

    “It must be horrible for him, he’s away in pre-season and he’s got fans in Australia booing him in the stadium, and it’s because of social media, not because of his performances.

    “Harry Maguire must be really mentally strong to get through the criticism he’s been getting, and hopefully with two top performances in the next two England games everyone will stop talking about him.

    “People have been saying if he doesn’t play for Manchester United he won’t get in the World Cup – he’s a guaranteed starter at the World Cup!

    “If he doesn’t play a Premier League game between now and the World Cup, he still starts in England’s defence.”

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