Erik ten Hag has challenged Harry Maguire to duplicate his England form with Manchester United in order to reclaim his place in the Red Devils’ starting lineup.
Maguire earned just three Premier League starts for Manchester United this season before departing for the World Cup with England, where he appeared in all five of England’s games en route to the quarter-finals.
On the international stage, Gareth Southgate has frequently praised the centre-back, but Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez have emerged as Ten Hag’s favourite partnership at United this season.
After England’s elimination to France on Saturday, Ten Hag hopes Maguire can return to Old Trafford with confidence from his impressive showings in Qatar.
“I can only back him. I’ve been asked many times if he is good enough [to play for me] and it is clear he is good enough to play at the highest level,” the United manager told reporters.
“And then it is up to him to show that confidence on the pitch and he didn’t show that in all the games [for United].
“When he is playing with his confidence like now, he is a massively important player for us and that is what everyone expects. That’s what Harry expects from himself.
“He has that high standard, he wants to play at the highest level, he wants to lead the defensive line, so it is up to him. I’m sure he has the potential to play in our style and fit into our system.
“He has, for England, almost all the time good games. He had a period in Manchester where he performed badly and then, of course, there are difficulties but when he is confident in himself, he will put that on the pitch.
“When he is working hard you will get that confidence and you are seeing that with the way he is playing for England.
“We want him to bring that back to Manchester with him so he can bring it on the pitch for Manchester United. I expect from him, the team knows what they expect from him. If he does that he will be a great player for us.”
A hamstring injury ruled Maguire out for parts of United’s Premier League campaign, though even when fit Ten Hag has still utilised Martinez, Varane and Victor Lindelof over the 29-year-old.
Ten Hag assured he has no issues with Maguire and insists positive performances will lead to a return to his starting XI.
“When I choose Rapha [Varane] it is nothing against Harry,” he continued. “Sometimes it is because one player is a lot better than the other.
“But I think I have two or three good players there in the right centre-back position.
“After Brentford, I had a feeling I had to change. He was unlucky that moment was bad for him but it doesn’t say anything about his quality that he can’t do it or my opinion about his quality.
“Rapha came in and is doing a good job. There are laws of the game in top football – you have to take your chance. Your chance will always come.
“The only thing he has to do is train well, perform well, he has games, he has rhythm and his chance will come. He will have a chance to show it and then he’s in and he will play.”
As for Maguire’s future, Ten Hag added: “Only when he doesn’t want to be in these circumstances any more. Until that moment, I am happy with him.
“I have said it to him and you, I can do nothing more. It is up to him to contribute to play himself into the team.
“We have 16 to 18 players in the squad and that is what you need at the top level if you want to play for trophies. All the number of games we have to cover and then it is about the players who construct the best team, and that team we will pick. It is nothing to do with being personal.”