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'New signings have been Man Utd's best players' - Irwin impressed by Maguire, James & Wan-Bissaka

12:20 GMT+3 27/09/2019
Harry Maguire Manchester United 2019-20
The former Red Devils full-back sees signs of encouragement, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still in the process of rebuilding at Old Trafford

Harry Maguire, Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have already proved to be shrewd additions for Manchester United, says Denis Irwin, with the trio considered to have been the club’s top performers in 2019-20.

It has been another testing start to the season for the Red Devils, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side having been unable to build on a promising 4-0 victory over Chelsea on the opening weekend.

Penalty failings have cost United dear at times, while spot-kicks were required to edge out Rochdale in the third round of the Carabao Cup.

Questions have been asked of the players and coaches at Old Trafford as a lengthy rebuilding process continues, but Irwin believes there are positives to take from summer transfer business and the impact made by new arrivals.

The former United full-back told Sporting Life: "Aaron-Wan Bissaka and Daniel James slotted in really well. Obviously he [Solskjaer] bought Maguire just before the first game of the season and you could near enough say they’ve been our three best players so far.

"I know it’s only early but they look like three really good signings.

"I think we needed a real strong centre-half, we’ve got that, needed a bit of pace as well, got that in Daniel James on either wing, and it looks like Aaron has slotted in unbelievably well. The three signings have been great.

"There was always going to be players going out, we’ve got a big squad.

"I still think there’s things to be done. We’re in a stage where it was Ole’s first pre-season and opportunity to buy players. I think we’ve seen a lot of positives from that.

"January, we’ll see where we are and obviously next close season is a big time for us. I think we’re taking steps in the right direction."

Irwin is well placed to pass judgement on the performances of Wan-Bissaka following his move to Old Trafford, with the Irishman having operated in both full-back berths during his iconic career.

He believes the £50 million ($61m) fee required to land an England U-21 international will soon prove to be the going rate for most defenders, with the value of top performers in key positions now being recognised.

Irwin added: "When you play for a top club who are going to be on the ball a lot you’ve got to be able to defend, in my day first and foremost you had to be able to defend because you always came up against wingers.

"Firstly as a full-back you’ve got to be athletic, you’ve got to be very comfortable on the ball and you’ve got to be able to join in on the attack on the outside.

"With everything else down the middle it’s a different avenue of attacking and it’s often the full-back providing that, so you see full-backs now costing £50m is the norm and you’ll probably see that rising.

"They’ve still got to be able to defend first and foremost because that’s your job, but certainly you’re encouraged to go forward a lot more and they’re a vital part of an attacking force now.

"The modern full-back has to be able to run, has to be able to go forward, has to be able to cross and even every now and then has to contribute to the goal scoring stakes."