A ball hasn’t even been in the 2023/24 season and mooted Chelsea transfer target Harry Maguire has been dealt a monumental blow in his faltering career.

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has stripped the Englishman ahead of the upcoming campaign. He surprisingly retained the armband last term, despite only making eight Premier League starts, and the decision comes with United willing to listen to offers for the 30-year-old dud.

Maguire tweeted in response to the news and said:

“After discussions with the manager today he has informed me he is changing captain. He outlined his reasons to me and whilst I’m personally extremely disappointed, I will continue to give my all every time I wear the shirt.

“I’ve done everything I possibly could to help United be successful - on and off the field. I will always be grateful to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for first giving me the responsibility and I wish whoever now takes it on every success and they will have my full support.”

He has handled the affair classily, but it is a damming reflection of what the manager thinks of him, and it begs the question if there is any way back for Maguire at United.

Surely it signals the end of his four-year stay at Old Trafford and the Blues have now been named as a possible suitor.

What’s the latest on Harry Maguire to Chelsea?

According to The Sun, Maguire is 'angry, shocked and upset' at ten Hag’s decision, with the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle and West Ham all reportedly waiting in the wings to secure his signature.

The Guardian has revealed that the Irons have made a loan proposal for the defender, with a possible option to buy, but it is unlikely to progress.

This is because Maguire received a healthy salary increase due to the club’s qualification for the Champions League, which has massively complicated the deal.

It is understood that the centre-back will only leave for what he considers the right club, and he still might stay and fight for his place. The Sun also revealed that the Red Devils are demanding around £50m, though it's expected to be whittled down to around £30m.

Should Chelsea sign Harry Maguire?

The alarm bells probably began to ring for ten Hag at the beginning of last season.

The Red Devils were dominated by Graham Potter’s free-flowing Brighton on the opening day of the season before they suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat in the next outing against Brentford - two games in which Maguire started.

Harry-Maguire-in-the-loss-against-Brentford

His lack of pace, composure, technical ability, and confidence have all contributed to a steady decline.

This was noted by former United man Paul Parker, who said:

“Harry Maguire is not able to hold a line. He can’t do that. He wants to defend deep, which is why he ideally should move to a club that is playing with a deep line. Of course, he can't play for a club in the top 10. He might be able to play for one of the teams below that if they are defending deep. He can’t play for a progressive team.”

This indictment serves as perfect reasoning as to why Mauricio Pochettino should refrain from buying Maguire.

Domestically, the £190k-per-week man registered the lowest average rating (6.59) of any United defender and drastically slipped down the pecking order.

It seems that Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane are firmly cemented as the first-choice centre-back partnership. When either of those are unavailable or rested, Victor Lindelof is the main backup with ten Hag even opting to deploy Luke Shaw in an unfavoured, central position.

Once described as “woeful” by Lianne Sanderson, the former Leicester City star simply isn’t up to Chelsea's standard. If Poch does launch a move for him, then he may well be making his first transfer blunder at Stamford Bridge, given he evidence above.