Harry Maguire was one of the standout performers during England’s run to the semi-finals of the World Cup but his star status would have rocketed several notches had a much discussed move to Manchester United, and a £75million price tag, materialised.
Jose Mourinho’s ongoing issues at centre-half could easily leave the player questioning what might have been at Old Trafford but he is more than happy to repay the faith Leicester showed in him little more than a year ago.
“If we were successful at the World Cup, as we were, there were always going to be players who came under interest that is part and parcel of the game,” he said.
“I spoke with Leicester after a bit of interest from clubs, they reiterated that I wasn’t for sale and I respected that decision.
“They gave me an opportunity to play in the Premier League when I had just been relegated with Hull. They have gave me the platform to play at the World Cup so I feel I owe them and I respect that decision.”
Fate pitted him against United on the opening day of the season, with the Red Devils faithful awarding Maguire a conspicuous ovation.
“It was quite strange but I’ve had a few claps from opposition fans,” he said.
“I think that was due to the achievement that we, as a team, produced at the World Cup. I think we brought the country together.”
Maguire is getting used to life as a cult hero of English football but insists a long line of autograph hunters at Gainsborough Trinity represents the height of his post World Cup fame.
The Leicester player turned in several eye-catching performances as the Three Lions reached the last four in Russia, coming of age on the international stage and scoring the winner in the quarter-final against Sweden.
The defender’s buccaneering style, not to mention to team-mate Jamie Vardy’s insistence on using his “slabhead” nickname, made him a big favourite among supporters but there are no celebrity affectations about the 25-year-old.
Just a week after a gut-wrenching semi-final loss to Croatia he was on the sidelines to support brothers Laurence and Joe go head-to-head in a pre-season friendly between Gainsborough and Chesterfield.
“It was pretty mad. At half-time, I had a pretty long queue and I tried to get through as many autographs as I could,” he said after linking back up with the squad for Saturday’s Nations League opener against Spain.
“There must have been a good few hundred queuing up. I think they restricted them to one photo or a signature each to try and get through. That was probably the busiest place I have been but it is nice. I try to keep my feet on the ground, still living the same life.
“I still support my brothers, which I have done my whole life. The only difference is that I am getting recognised in more places and asked for more pictures.”
Barcelona are stepping up attempts to secure the signing of Ajax midfielder Frenkie de Jong, reports Mundo Deportivo.
The 21-year-old is set to stay with Ajax for the rest of the season, but the Catalan giants are wary of growing interest from clubs such as Tottenham and PSG.
The Dutch midfielder started 25 times for the Eredivisie side last term, scoring one goal and providing one assist in the process.
Ernesto Valverde is reportedly keen to sign De Jong as he looks to bolster his midfield options.
It is believed a bid of as much as €60 million may be enough to get the deal over the line.
Watford are gearing up for contract talks with head coach Javi Gracia following a perfect start to the season, the Daily Mail reports.
The paper says the Hornets are keen to reward the Spaniard, whose contract runs out at the end of this season, and want to resolve any uncertainty surrounding his future. The club fear interest in the 48-year-old may intensify after the side’s impressive start to the campaign, the paper adds.
John Terry is reportedly set for a shock return to Aston Villa. The Sun reports that under-fire boss Steve Bruce is ready to launch a bid to bring back the 37-year-old to help them get back on track this season. The veteran defender could be offered the chance to end his playing career by leading the side back to the Premier League, the paper adds.
Manchester City are willing to wait until the end of the season to discuss a new deal with Vincent Kompany, according to The Sun. The Belgium defender is out of contract next summer, but City are not worried about him wanting to play for another English club and will wait before thrashing out new terms, the paper says.
Manchester United‘s Ander Herrera could be willing to consider offers to leave Old Trafford in January, the Metro says. The Spaniard, who is out of contract at the end of the season, is said to be keen to stay at United, but is disappointed at their delay in offering him a new deal and is ready to listen to offers from elsewhere.
Players to watch
Danny Drinkwater: The 28-year-old is reportedly being tracked by his former club Leicester, with the Foxes said to be interested in bringing him back in a January loan. The Daily Express reports that Southampton are also interested in the midfielder, who has struggled to get in the Chelsea side since his move last summer.
Luca Stephenson: The 15-year-old is said to be on the brink of signing for Liverpool. The Sun says the Reds have agreed a £500,000 deal to bring in the Sunderland teenager, although The Chronicle in Newcastle suggests the Reds are optimistic of striking a deal for around a third of that price. The youngster has drawn comparisons with Jordan Henderson, who arrived at Anfield for £16million in 2011.