Harry Maguire has been starting over Raphaël Varane over the past few weeks, with Manchester United fans confused as to why.
Maguire was linked with a move away from Erik ten Hag‘s team after he was stripped of the captaincy armband, with West Ham keen to sign the player either on loan or a permanent basis.
However, the move never materialised, with Maguire finding himself back on top of Ten Hag’s go-to centre-back list after injuries to both Jonny Evans and Lisandro Martínez have left him with space to compete.
Raphaël Varane, who some consider to be United’s best defender, hasn’t started any of United’s last four fixtures, with some suggesting that there has been a breakdown in the relationship between Varane and Ten Hag, but the Dutch manager has already explained the real reason why the Frenchman isn’t playing.
“Absolutely not,” said Ten Hag on Friday when asked if there are any issues between him and Varane. “As I said, it is about tactical reasons why I chose these partnerships. I think Harry and Jonny did well.
“Last year Harry didn’t play a lot, so I was very happy with Rapha’s performances. I have always been happy with his performance. But in this moment, Harry is playing very well and there is internal competition.”
Ten Hag went on further to hint that he feels that Maguire and Varane are not the most complimentary central-defensive pairing.
“There are moments in certain games where they can play together and they have already proven they can do it,” he said.
“But the buildup is not that fluid when one of them is playing from the left centre-back position because I think Licha [Lisandro Martínez], obviously, Luke Shaw, obviously, Jonny Evans and Victor Lindelöf, they are right-footed, but they can play really comfortably with their left and make the right angles, then you can construct a better formation where you can start to play.”
Maguire started alongside Lindelöf as United defeated Luton 1-0, with the Swedish defender grabbing the only goal and helping Maguire keep a much-needed clean sheet at Old Trafford.
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