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‘Maguire only Man Utd captain due to £80m price tag’ – Smalling can solve centre-half dilemma, says Parker

11:20 BST 24/09/2020
Harry Maguire Manchester United 2020-21
The former Red Devils defender is not convinced that one England international is the leader Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs, but another could help out

Harry Maguire is only Manchester United captain due to his £80 million ($102m) price tag and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be considering Chris Smalling as a solution to his centre-half dilemma, claims Paul Parker.

The Red Devils are facing ever-increasing calls for further reinforcements to be made to their defensive unit.

Leaks at Old Trafford are yet to be plugged, despite big money being invested in the likes of Maguire, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof.

Solskjaer is being linked with a number of supposed targets, with Porto left-back Alex Telles among those said to be in his sights.

Parker admits that something needs to change in United’s back four, with the former full-back claiming that Smalling should be given a second chance after returning from a loan spell at Roma, while questions need to be asked of Maguire’s value despite his record-breaking transfer fee.

“They are now being linked to Alex Telles of Porto and I’ve been saying they need a left-back for ages now. Luke Shaw has done his best but his powers of recovery are just not up to scratch,” Parker told Eurosport of goings on at United.

“I also think they need a commanding centre-half who can lead the defence. You have an £80 million player in Harry Maguire, who I feel is only really captain due to his price tag. There needs to be someone who can organise and get everyone in the right position as well, that might also help [David] de Gea as well.

“You want someone like a Steve Bruce, Jaap Staam or Nemanja Vidic in there. Even when I think about Ronnie Johnson or Wes Brown, either of them at their peak, would make this United defence 30-40% better if you put them in rather than Maguire.

“For me you’re a captain because you have something about you, not because of what you cost, especially when you weren’t captain at your previous club.

“It’s difficult to find someone like Virgil van Dijk, who could have played in any era, make no doubt about it, but perhaps United already have the answer within their ranks? I’m not necessarily convinced about promoting from within given it hasn’t worked so far with what they’re tried but if you’re going to go down that route then why not give Chris Smalling a chance?

“He took a risk going to Roma last year, but it turned out to be a great move for him and he will have come back a better player. It’s got to be tough for him watching the amount they’ve spent on centre-backs and you would have to wonder whether his head will be in the right place - particularly given he hasn’t been allowed to return to Roma. It’s hard for him when he hears [Gareth] Southgate saying that he can’t play out from the back and then you watch Maguire.”

United were linked with Nathan Ake and Gabriel Magalhaes prior to their respective moves to Manchester City and Arsenal, with Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly another long-standing target as the Senegalese sparks fresh rounds of transfer talk in Italy.