Contenders to replace Harry Maguire as Man Utd captain

  • Harry Maguire's Manchester United future is uncertain
  • Even if he stays, the club captaincy could go to another player
  • Erik ten Hag has a number of possible options to look at
Harry Maguire's time at Man Utd hasn't been a success
Harry Maguire's time at Man Utd hasn't been a success / Matt McNulty/GettyImages

Manchester United spent the summer of 2019 chasing Harry Maguire, a year after the centre-back had proven himself an international calibre defender for England at the World Cup.

Leicester knew the asset they had and hardly refused to budge over a steep asking price, which eventually resulted in an £80m transfer that made Maguire both the most expensive defender in the world and most expensive English player ever.

With then United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looking to build a British core of a squad he hoped would soon challenge for major honours, Maguire was made captain.

For the most part, he did pretty well in his first year. United dramatically improved by finishing third in the Premier League and reached the semi-finals in three cup competitions. His second season was another solid effort even if he was far from setting the world alight, though an infamous police incident in Mykonos that is still ongoing did threaten to derail it before it began. It also perhaps highlighted Maguire’s naivety given his status as captain of one of the world’s biggest club.

But both Maguire’s leadership and form were massively questioned by fans, journalists and pundits throughout an extremely tough 2021/22 season. Come the end, United were six years without a trophy, their longest such drought since the 1970s. They also recorded their lowest points tally with the fewest wins of the Premier League era and conceded the most league goals in 43 years.

Maguire took the brunt of the criticism and, after two woeful performances in back-to-back defeats against Brighton and Brentford at the start of last season, he was benched by Erik ten Hag, never to permanently regain his starting place.

With Lisandro Martinez establishing himself as Raphael Varane’s primary partner, Victor Lindelof regularly preferred either off the bench or as a stand-in starter and even Luke Shaw playing centrally on occasion, Maguire finished the season as fourth or fifth choice centre-back.

And now, it's been officially confirmed that Maguire will give up the captain's armband for the 2023/24 season.

Here's the players who could replace Maguire as the Red Devils' captain:

Contenders to replace Harry Maguire as Man Utd captain

5. Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane
Few exude calmness like Raphael Varane / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Raphael Varane is a 'lead by example' kind of centre-back, but the 30-year-old has been there and done it at the highest level for over a decade with both club and country. Others cannot help be inspired by him.

Varane is a four-time Champions League winner, three time La Liga champion and a World Cup winner with France to boot.

4. Lisandro Martinez

Lisandro Martinez
Lisandro Martinez is already a cult hero for fans / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages

Although only a year into his Manchester United career, Lisandro Martinez has already developed a special kind of relationship with fans who adore his heart-on-sleeve passion and aggressive style of play.

The Argentine, 25, has already played for Erik ten Hag for four years thanks to their time together at Ajax and is a longer-term choice than Varane.



3. Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford
Marcus Rashford stepped up his game in 2022/23 / Michael Regan/GettyImages

There is something to be said for making your talisman your captain. It's a tactic often employed that has seen the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi wear armbands at international level for years.

Marcus Rashford had his best season to date in 2022/23, scoring 30 times and often carrying the team with his performances. He also has the additional romance factor of being a home-grown player.

2. Casemiro

Casemiro offers experience & passion / Naomi Baker/GettyImages

Few, if any, United fans would argue if Erik ten Hag decided to make Casemiro his new captain ahead of the 2023/24 season. Similar to Varane, the Brazilian has won it all, but would probably be a more vocal leader.

Casemiro instantly seemed to click with the United philosophy as soon as he arrived from Real Madrid and is the most 'Roy Keane-like' on this list.

1. Bruno Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes wore the armband for much of last season / James Gill - Danehouse/GettyImages

Bruno Fernandes led United out for the FA Cup final at Wembley in June and was often captain throughout the season when Maguire was either injured or left on the bench.

The Portuguese first started following United as a boy - thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's 2003 transfer - and is the most obvious choice to take on the role full-time given he has already shown himself as an effective leader.


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