The Spanish boss says he was interested in taking the Leicester City and England man to the Etihad, but an £80m price tag proved too expensive
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has congratulated cross-city rivals Manchester United on the imminent signing of Harry Maguire, and conceded that his own club “could not afford” the Leicester defender.
Speaking to the media following his side’s penalty shootout win over Liverpool in the Community Shield on Sunday, Guardiola admitted he was keen to take the England man to Etihad Stadium this summer.
The stumbling block, however, was a transfer fee of £80 million ($97.2m) – a figure that has been set to make the 26-year-old the world’s most expensive defender once his move to Old Trafford has been confirmed.
The amount eclipses the previous record of £75m ($91.2m) – the sum Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil van Dijk in December 2017 – and was the main reason City did not follow up their initial interest.
“Harry Maguire has been a top class central defender,” said Guardiola after a 1-1 draw and subsequent penalty shootout victory against the Reds at Wembley.
“We were interested but we could not afford it. Man United could afford it. Congratulations to them.”
The race to sign Maguire has been a long, drawn-out affair, and one that Manchester United kick-started as far back as August last year.
The former Hull City and Sheffield United man eventually stayed at Leicester for the duration of the 2018-19 season after wranglings regarding his post-World Cup asking price, but fast-forward 12 months, United are finally set to get their man.
Maguire’s medical took place at the Red Devils’ Carrington training complex on Sunday morning, and an announcement confirming his transfer has been expected to made over the next 24-48 hours.
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Speaking to reporters after United’s penalty shoot-out win over AC Milan on Saturday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed his new star defender has been in line to make his debut against Chelsea in their Premier League opener next Sunday.
“Hopefully the last little details will be in place and hopefully we can announce something soon,” said the Norwegian.
“Let’s get the last details over the line but yeah, he’s played a few games over the summer so we’ll have to assess him if and when.”