Under-pressure Harry Maguire has found an unlikely ally in the form of Italy great Giorgio Chiellini, who believes too much is expected of the England defender.
Maguire has lost his place in Manchester United‘s defence after early season struggles, with manager Erik ten Hag axing his captain to create a partnership between Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
The 29-year-old, regularly a target of criticism from fans, is however trusted by England boss Gareth Southgate and was included in the latest squad despite losing his United place.
Harry Maguire lost his place in the Manchester United defence after a poor start to the season
But the England defender has found an ally in Italian defensive legend Giorgio Chiellini
Chiellini and Maguire – and Raheem Sterling – compete for the ball during the Euro 2020 final
And veteran defender Chiellini, who retired from international football after this summer’s Finalissima against Argentina, has come to Maguire’s defence.
‘I am sad for Maguire’s situation because he is a good player,’ Chiellini told The Times.
‘They require too much of him. Just because they paid £80million for him, he has to be the best in the world every match? It’s not right.
‘The value of the market is dependent on many aspects you can’t control. It’s not your fault.
‘Him and [John] Stones are a good duo. OK, Maguire maybe is not Rio Ferdinand but he’s good enough.
‘With this situation it’s not helping [England] to do the best. If you want to win the World Cup, it’s impossible to do it with some problems in the key players, and for sure Maguire is one of the key players in the team.’
New United manager Erik ten Hag backed his captain during pre-season but then dropped him
Maguire retains the trust of England manager Gareth Southgate with the World Cup ahead
Maguire is likely to be involved when England play Italy in the UEFA Nations League in Milan’s San Siro on Friday night.
The Three Lions conclude their Nations League group at home to Germany on Monday night and realistically need to win both matches to avoid relegation to League B of the competition.
Chiellini, 38, captained Italy to glory at the European Championship last year, when they defeated England on penalties at Wembley.
He left Juventus over the summer to move to Major League Soccer team Los Angeles FC, helping them win the Western Conference by a considerable margin.
Chiellini, 38, left Juventus to move to Major League Soccer side Los Angeles FC in the summer
Maguire started United’s first two matches of the season but a 2-1 home loss to Brighton and a 4-0 thrashing at Brentford saw him lose his place.
Ten Hag’s side subsequently won their next four Premier League fixtures with a central defensive partnership of Varane and Martinez.
Maguire played in the UEFA Europa League group opener against Real Sociedad, which United lost 1-0 before returning to the bench for the 2-0 win over Moldovan team FC Sheriff.