During a transfer window where many of the Premier League’s biggest clubs have acquired a new centre-back, it may turn out that Leicester City have bagged the biggest bargain of them all by signing Harry Maguire.
The Foxes concluded a deal for the defender in June, paying Hull City just an initial £12million.
That amount could rise to £17million due to various add-ons, but even then it looks like a snip when compared to the current market.
Chelsea shelled out around £30million to sign Antonio Rüdiger from Roma, paid a similar fee for Victor Lindelöf of Benfica and Tottenham could well spend over £40million to get Davinson Sánchez out of Ajax.
None of those three have any experience of Premier League football.
Now that’s not to say they are worse players than Maguire, far from it, but they will certainly need time to adapt to life in England and at nearly double the price you have to wonder why the former Hull man was not considered.
Like the previously mentioned centre-backs acquired by top four clubs, he went for nearly £30million as the Toffees splashed the cash to sign him from Burnley. Keane is exactly the same age as Maguire, but he perhaps appeared the more attractive proposition on paper.
Maguire, however, certainly drew plenty of interest in the summer before finally opting to join Leicester. Indeed, he reportedly held talks with Tottenham and was on Liverpool’s radar too.
“There were a number of clubs interested,” said Maguire. “But when I met the manager here, he pretty much swayed it into the direction of this club. Leicester are on the up and it looks very promising for the future.
“It’s obviously a very exciting time for myself. Once I had my eyes on this club, I always wanted to join. Thankfully I’m here so I can’t wait to kick on.
“You can see that with the structure of the club, it’s going to look upwards rather than down so that was a big reason why, as soon as I knew there was an interest, I wanted to jump at the opportunity.”
Watching Maguire for 90 minutes against Brighton during his home debut for Leicester, it is difficult to understand why top clubs overlooked him.
Perhaps it was because he spent last season playing for Hull City who, despite a mini-revival under Marco Silva, were eventually relegated from the Premier League. Or perhaps it is Maguire’s large frame that raised doubts.
Make no mistake, the defender is huge. However, he is by no means slow or lumbering as one might expect. Nor in any way is he poor in possession – in fact he is very much the opposite.
Against Brighton, Maguire showed exactly what he can produce when given the chance.
Playing alongside Wes Morgan he was imperious in difference, refusing to give Brighton’s – admittedly rather toothless – attack even the faintest whiff of a chance to score.
As he showed against Arsenal, Maguire is, unsurprisingly, a threat from set-pieces too and his header brought the second goal that wrapped up the three points for Leicester against Brighton.
However, it is Maguire’s work with the ball that really highlights how the Premier League’s biggest clubs may well have missed a trick.
The 24-year-old is so calm in possession and he is just as happy to ping a 30-yard pass out wide as he is to play a quick give-and-go with a midfielder.
The defender looks to bring the ball out of defence too and, while it would be too much pressure to say he looks like the new Ledley King or Rio Ferdinand, he certainly follows their mindset.
In many ways Maguire is exactly what we thought John Stones would, and still could, be.
One such run out of defence at the weekend saw him maraud all the way from the half-line to the edge of Brighton’s area, before he was cynically hacked down after skinning the full-back.
Such composure and poise is rare in a centre-back, let alone an English one, and it only further adds to the mystery as to why none of the Premier League’s elite signed him.
With home-grown quotas becoming more of an issue, Maguire would have been the perfect addition for many of them.
Last season, at a Hull, he also showed he could thrive as part of back three and now he is doing the same in a two at Leicester alongside Morgan. So any fears over his tactical versatility seem unfair.
Talk of an England call-up is now on the horizon for Maguire and, given what we have seen so far, it surely won’t be far off.