The rise and fall of Harry Maguire contains extremities that are rare in football.

Signed by Leicester City in the summer of 2017, the centre-back’s stock steadily grew across two successful years in the East Midlands, after long being considered a player of genuine promise. 

In his first season, Maguire won the club’s Player of the Year merit, establishing himself as one of the Premier League’s most reliable and impactful defenders. Soon after, he played a pivotal role in England reaching a World Cup semi-final.

All of which naturally enough prompted interest from the big boys and one year later, in the summer of 2019, a whole transfer window was given over to Manchester United and Manchester City both aggressively chasing his signature. 

When the Foxes refused to budge on their £80m valuation, City dropped out, but desperate for a statement signing at the back, a totem to epitomise yet another new era at Old Trafford, this time under Ole Gunner Solskjaer, the Reds ploughed on.

That July, the Yorkshire stopper became the world’s most expensive defender

It is pertinent that we pause at this point, Maguire’s apex, to acknowledge who he is as a player, as opposed to his then sky-high reputation and what he was supposed to represent. 

Forged from attributes that amount to all manner of football cliches, his way of defending is from the old-school, that of reacting instead of anticipating. Tackling instead of shepherding.

It is combative in the old-fashioned sense and if we are to be a bit underhand it could be suggested that Solskjaer was so keen to rekindle United’s glory days he went out a signed a 21st century Steve Bruce.

In possession meanwhile, crucially, Maguire wasn’t the best. Not by a long stretch.

That shortcoming, that widely-accepted truth, has subsequently come to haunt Maguire, and to a substantial extent, the club too.

Because saddled with an enormous price on his head and severely limited in capabilities compared to peers such as Virgil Van Dijk, the United’s skipper’s confidence plummeted with every mistake that came to be heavily scrutinised, and every misplaced pass that was met with a guffaw.

As the gaffes escalated, becoming ever more costly and ever more regular, Maguire turned into a shadow of the player he so recently was.

It was a downfall that first saw him lose the armband, then his first-team place as Erik Ten Hag took the reins and swiftly brought in Lisandro Martinez to partner Raphael Varane.

Frankly though, for several seasons now, and long before the Dutchman arrived, it has been crystal clear that the move has proven to be disastrous. That Maguire’s future is much better served elsewhere. 

It's more than that though. Infinitely more. 

Players move for big money all the time, and often find themselves labelled a flop in due course. Examples of this are plentiful.

Maguire’s castigation however has become a thing of itself, an industry. He has become shorthand for failure, a national punchline.

It can only be imagined the intense pressure he is under every time he takes to a football field, as millions of eyes watch and wait, hoping for another reason to pile on.

This stopped being cruel a while back. It’s now rather tired.

So entrenched is this narrative that it makes a resurrection of his reputation at Old Trafford impossible, for all that he has been selected of late due to Martinez’s absence.

Harry Maguire needs to move on, this January or next summer, if he is to slowly rebuild his credentials as a top-class stopper, and even factoring in his struggles there will be no shortage of Premier League suitors. 

And what’s the betting at a club such as West Ham, he doesn’t succeed and flourish? Let’s hope so anyway, because the extremes of his rise and fall are partly on us.

*Credit for all of the photos in this article belongs to Alamy*

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.