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How Man Utd should replace Harry Maguire: Benjamin Pavard, Jean-Clair Todibo, Jonny Evans or no one at all?

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Erik ten Hag needs to fill the gap in his squad, but faces a difficult task in finding a defender who is unlikely to be a regular starterHarry Maguire’s days at Manchester United are numbered. After joining for a world-record transfer fee for a defender in 2019, Maguire had two up-and-down campaigns, one nightmare season and one year spent mostly sitting on the bench. He is now about to move to West Ham where he will hope to resurrect his club career and ensure he remains in Gareth Southgate’s plans for England.What should United do next, then? They had not initially prioritised bringing in a defender, but Maguire’s imminent departure will leave them with only three natural centre-backs in the senior squad. The club have already spent more than £165 million ($209m) on three new arrivals this summer and could yet add another midfielder to their squad if they finalise a deal to sign Sofyan Amrabat from Fiorentina.They are already stretched financially and are unlikely to dedicate large funds to signing a player who is set to be behind Lisandro Martinez, Raphael Varane and potentially Victor Lindelof in the pecking order.

On the other hand, their squad will be stretched over the course of the season as they aim to go deep in four competitions and return to the Champions League – remember Martinez and Varane picked up injuries in the same game last season – and centre-back is too important a position to be left to an inexperienced youngster.

GOAL, then, assesses United’s options as they consider how to replace their former captain:

Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich)

France international Benjamin Pavard would not be a direct replacement for Maguire as he plays predominantly at right-back, although he has also featured on the right of a back three for Bayern Munich in recent seasons.

A World Cup and Champions League winner, Pavard has the experience and mentality to play for United. He would be a versatile option and would boost the squad overall, and as he has only one year left on his contract with Bayern, he will not command a huge fee, with reports suggesting he is worth around €30m (£26m/$33m).However, he might be wary about giving up a regular place in Bayern’s starting XI to leap into unknown territory at United. The Red Devils already have two solid right-backs in Diogo Dalot, who recently signed a long-term contract, and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who last season produced some of the best performances of his United career to re-establish himself as the club’s first-choice right-back.

Jean-Clair Todibo (Nice)

Jean-Clair Todibo left a trail of hype in his wake when he made his Ligue 1 debut for Toulouse, and after just 10 appearances he had been snapped up by Barcelona in January 2019. In hindsight, that move came far too early in his career as he rarely featured for the Catalans.

One year later, Todibo was loaned out to Schalke and then Benfica, although he never played a league game for the Lisbon giants, and he only started to settle again back in France with Nice, playing practically every Ligue 1 game since moving there in 2021.Todibo, 23, would cost United around €30m (£26m/$33m) and the Red Devils have reportedly made enquiries about his availability.

Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace)

Marc Guehi only missed one match all season for Crystal Palace and became the youngest captain in the Premier League after he was handed the armband at the age of 22. He has shown leadership qualities and maturity as well as bags of quality on the ball. In other words, he would be an excellent signing for United, who expressed their interest in him at the start of the summer.

The main obstacle to a potential move to Old Trafford is that Palace would likely ask for a minimum transfer fee of £50m, which would be too high for United for a squad player, especially after another expensive summer transfer window.