Erik ten Hag has told Harry Maguire to go to West Ham if he isn’t confident enough to fight for his place at Old Trafford.
Manchester United have accepted a £30m offer from the Hammers for their former captain, who has left the team as Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have become first-choice centre-backs.
But while Ten Hag insisted he wants to keep Maguire as he hopes to have two players for every spot in the side, he believes the England international should leave if he doesn’t think he’ll return to the side can.
“He has to fight for his place,” said the United coach. “He has the ability to be a quality centre-back and he is the best for England. So why shouldn’t he be the best for us?” But he has to prove it. If he’s not confident enough to fight then he has to go, then he has to make a decision, but I’m happy with him.
“We don’t have an 11-player squad and the last year has definitely shown that we need all the players. That means you need some quality players who might not be in the starting XI, but that can change so there’s an internal competition where everyone has to fight for their spot.
“Every player gets their games when they’re good, but nobody can play all games, and eventually you find out which team is the best.” In the squad, all positions are now doubled and every player has the opportunity to compete for their place to fight. You have to show with your contribution that it is the best team effort. It’s up to the players whether they have playing time or less.”
Ten Hag also suggested that he could keep Dean Henderson. United have had talks with Nottingham Forest over the goalkeeper but with third player Tom Heaton out for several weeks, United could be reluctant to let Henderson go.
Ten Hag added: “He was always on my mind so I think we have a strong goalkeeping group with Onana, Henderson and Heaton.”