Manchester United captain Harry Maguire has denied reports suggesting that he is embroiled in a “power struggle” with Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford.
The Daily Mirror are the latest to claim that the England international defender is seeing his authority as Red Devils skipper undermined by the presence of a five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
There have been suggestions that Ralf Rangnick will pass the armband to Ronaldo at some point in the near future, with reports suggesting that cliques are forming in the ranks.
What has been said?
Maguire has been quick to refute the latest reports, posting on social media: “I’ve seen a lot of reports about this club that aren’t true and this is another.
“Not going to start posting about everything that is written but I needed to make this one clear. We’re united and focused on Sunday. Enjoy your day everyone.”
Who else has responded to the speculation?
Maguire is not the first prominent member of the United squad to feel that a public response needs to be offered to unwelcome speculation.
There have been claims that English players in the Red Devils’ ranks – such as Maguire and Marcus Rashford – are growing irritated at divides forming behind the scenes as Ronaldo and those close to him break away from the rest of the group.
Rashford said in a Twitter post of his own: “Are we just making it up as we go along now then? Please stop looking for divides.”
Red Devils boss Rangnick has also had his say on unwelcome speculation, telling reporters ahead of a Premier League clash with Leeds on Sunday: "Well, to start with, I must say this is absolutely nonsense.
"I have never spoken with any player about a possible change of captaincy, this has never been an issue for me.
"It's me who decides who's captain. Harry is our captain and will stay our captain until the end of the season and there is nothing else to that."
What do we know? | GOAL correspondent Charlotte Duncker
It’s been a difficult few weeks for Harry Maguire with the Manchester United captain struggling for form since he came back from injury.
Victor Lindelof was picked ahead of him for the win against Brentford last month and it was only after the Swede was granted time off to be with his family after a terrifying burglary that Maguire got his place back.
Rangnick admitted the England international is struggling to adapt to a new playing style but said he would not be taking the captain’s armband off him and he would lead the team out whenever he starts.
GOAL sources have tried to play down any dispute between the players in the dressing room but it is understood some would like to see a different captain.
Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and David de Gea have all had the armband this season but it would be a big move from Rangnick to take the captaincy off Maguire on a permanent basis.
Has Ronaldo said anything about it?
It is reported that Rangnick is ready to relieve Maguire of captaincy duties in a bid to ease some of the pressure that has been building on him during a recent dip in form.
United’s interim boss is said to have called on Ronaldo to start leading by example, with many looking to him for inspiration in a campaign that has the Red Devils sweating on a top-four finish.
A legendary Portuguese forward has been vocal in his support of Maguire this season and took aim at the “noise” which has been building around Old Trafford after bringing a six-game goal drought to a close in United’s 2-0 victory over Brighton on Tuesday.
Rangnick’s side will be back in action against arch-rivals Leeds on Sunday, when they will want to put any distractions behind them and focus on a bid to secure Champions League qualification for 2022-23.