Erik ten Hag reaffirms one thing West Ham target Harry Maguire wants

  • The Red Devils accepted £30m bid from West Ham last summer but move fell through
  • Maguire has been more prominent fixture in Erik ten Hag's defence
  • The 31-year-old's desire to play more games has been no secret
Maguire has been back in favour this season
Maguire has been back in favour this season / Shaun Botterill/GettyImages

Erik ten Hag admits Harry Maguire just wants to play games for Manchester United and says he's key to helping the club achieve their targets.

The 31-year-old came close to leaving Old Trafford last summer as West Ham United had a £30m bid accepted by the Red Devils. But the deal failed to go through before the transfer deadline, with Maguire subsequently revealing in October that all parties had failed to come to an agreement.

Maguire, who cost £80m when joining from Leicester City in the summer of 2019 to become the world's most expensive defender, started the 2023/24 Premier League season out of the side, with his first-team prospects continuing to look bleak under Ten Hag.

But poor results and injuries to other United defenders opened for the door for Maguire to regain his place in the side, and he's been a regular starter for Ten Hag barring a five-game layoff caused by a groin injury.

West Ham's interest in Maguire is believed to remain, but Ten Hag reinforced Maguire's qualities in his latest press conference as well as his ongoing desire to be in the team.

"You have to see it in that perspective," Ten Hag told reporters. "We were always happy with Harry Maguire but he wants to play.

Harry Maguire, Erik ten Hag
Ten Hag has relied on Maguire in the face of several injury problems / Michael Steele/GettyImages

"He's a great leader, he's a very good defender, very comfortable on the ball. When I count all of those abilities, just now when we are on our defending line we have our problems, he is even more important to lead that line, to make us play from the back. So we are very pleased he is there and we need him to get our results and achieve our targets.

"It's very difficult [to keep changing back four]. So everyone who has a little (emphasises little with hand gesture) bit of knowledge about football - a little - they know it will affect your results and performances. Back four is always the foundation to get results. We didn't have that."

Maguire's place in the side has been cemented by regular injury problems to Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez - the latter of whom was sidelined for four months with a foot problem last year before picking up a serious knee injury against West Ham in February.

Varane could end up leaving Old Trafford this summer - his contract is up and United may opt against triggering his one-year extension - and the uncertainty over his future could put Maguire in a strong position to stay. His contract is up in 2025, with a year-long option also written into his deal.