Arsenal veteran Paul Merson has claimed that he called Manchester United captain Harry Maguire to apologize after criticizing the England international “a little too far.”
Maguire became the most expensive defender in history when he joined United from Leicester City for £80 million in the summer of 2019. Despite being elected captain soon after arriving at Old Trafford, the 29-year-old has had a rough year with United and has faced criticism from fans and analysts for his personal performances.
Under new manager Erik ten Hag, Maguire has found himself on the bench this season, with the center-back only starting three of United’s eight games this season before being replaced by Raphael Varane.
Merson earlier described Maguire’s £80 million move to Old Trafford as “crazy,” stating that he was surprised by the sum paid by the club and questioned if he would be a success in Manchester.
Merson stated to Sky Sports in 2019: “At the greatest level, £80 million for Maguire is absurd. Remember, he ripped it up for England in a three. And when you play in a three-man defense, it’s only for one reason: the defenders aren’t competent enough, and you don’t trust them.
“He kicks off now with United, and you’re on the halfway line, and all of a sudden you’re playing against Arsenal, and balls are coming over the top for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and balls are going over the top for Sergio Aguero, and it’s pace, pace, pace.”
However, the Arsenal legend has subsequently apologized for his remarks, claiming that he contacted Maguire to apologize after obtaining his phone number from Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers.
“I’d rather be wrong than correct on that,” Merson told The Telegraph. “England should win the World Cup, and Harry Maguire should score the game-winning goal.
“It was only my opinion. “Can you get me Harry Maguire’s number?” I asked Brendan Rodgers. I didn’t feel at ease with myself.
“I needed to call him and apologize for saying, ‘I don’t agree with the £80 million, but I shouldn’t have said that, and I’m sorry.’ I took it a little too far.
“He couldn’t believe his eyes. Most likely believed it was a prank. I don’t think he got a fair shake. He’s having trouble, and he’s playing on the left side when he’s right-footed.”
While on international duty with England, Maguire will try to impress Ten Hag. He is expected to play in the future games against Italy and Germany.