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‘Van Dijk was Liverpool’s last piece, Maguire is Man Utd’s first’ – £80m star’s former team-mate says Red Devils are ‘not great’

11:42 EAT 13/09/2019
Harry Maguire Manchester United 2019-20
Neill Collins, who worked with the world's most expensive defender at Sheffield United, is backing him to go from strength to strength at Old Trafford

Comparisons between Virgil van Dijk and Harry Maguire are unfair, says Neill Collins, arguing the £80 million ($97m) asset is just the first piece in the Manchester United puzzle, whereas the Dutch star at Anfield was the last for Jurgen Klopp.

The Red Devils broke the world transfer record for a defender when they lured the England international away from Leicester over the summer.

Maguire is expected to make an important contribution at Old Trafford, but cannot carry the weight of expectation by himself.

His signing forms part of a long-term project in Manchester, with Collins eager to point out that the commanding 26-year-old has joined a United side that are “not great”.

A former Sheffield United team-mate of Maguire told The Telegraph: “He’ll be compared to Van Dijk but I think Van Dijk was the final piece of the jigsaw at Liverpool, whereas I’d argue Harry is one of the first pieces in this jigsaw at United, which is a really big ask.

“They’ve not got a great side, and I think Harry’s got a lot on his shoulders, but he is up there with the best in the world in that position and, as they improve as a team, I think he will go from strength to strength.”

“Maybe these players have to go to a Southampton or Leicester to really prove themselves to the big clubs but he definitely ended up costing United a lot more money.”

Another one-time colleague of Maguire, ex-Hull City defender Alex Bruce, also believes that the centre-back's meteoric rise can continue.

He was impressed by the qualities brought to the Tigers fold by one of the best in the business and expects United to benefit from that skill set in the years to come.

Bruce said: “I think the biggest compliment you can pay Harry is he improves year after year.

“He has excelled in every environment he’s been put in.”

“It’s almost abnormal how strong he is – and damn right it hurts when he catches you.

“His feet are massive. He must be a size 16 or something. And when he stands on your foot... He’s so powerful that when he comes towards you with the ball you’re thinking, ‘I’m not tackling that!’”

Maguire, having helped England to back-to-back victories in Euro 2020 qualifying during the international break, will be back on domestic duty on Saturday when United play host to his former club Leicester.