Paul Merson reveals he called up Harry Maguire to APOLOGISE for labelling his £80m Man United transfer fee ‘ridiculous’, as he opens up on ‘getting it wrong sometimes’ as a pundit for Sky Sports
- Paul Merson said it was ‘ridiculous’ that Man United paid £80m for Harry Maguire
- He felt Maguire had only done well for England as he was playing in a back three
- Merson has now admitted that he went too far with his criticism of Maguire
- He has revealed that he called Maguire to apologise for his comments
- He has been critical of the fees paid for Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah in the past
- Merson has now admitted that he has made mistakes as a pundit
- Click here for all the latest World Cup 2022 news and updates
Paul Merson has revealed that he called Harry Maguire to apologise after he branded Manchester United’s decision to pay £80m for him ‘ridiculous’ back in 2019.
Maguire starred at the 2018 World Cup for England during their run to the semi-finals, and United opted to pay a world-record fee for a defender to Leicester to bring him to Old Trafford the following year.
When asked for his opinion on the transfer, Merson said on Sky Sports: ‘Harry Maguire, £80m, is ridiculous. Ridiculous at the highest level.
Manchester United signed Harry Maguire for £80m in 2019 and quickly made him captain
Paul Merson was staggered by the transfer fee, labelling it a ‘ridiculous’ amount of money
‘He ripped it up with England, he played in a three. When you play in a three at the back, you play in a three for one reason only: the defenders aren’t good enough, you don’t trust them.’
Maguire was handed the captaincy in his first season at United, but endured a difficult campaign last term, and he has been dropped in recent weeks by Erik ten Hag, who has preferred a defensive pairing of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez.
Despite his lack of game time at club level, Gareth Southgate has stood by Maguire and picked him for his latest England squad. The 29-year-old looks set to play a key role for his country at the World Cup later this year, and Merson has claimed that he wants nothing but the best for Maguire which led to him calling the centre back to clear the air after his previous comments about him.
‘I don’t want to be right on that [his past criticism of Maguire] – I’d rather be wrong,’ Merson told The Telegraph.
Merson has revealed he called Maguire for going ‘a bit too far’ with his criticism of him
‘I want England to win the World Cup and Harry Maguire to get the winning goal. It was just my opinion. I rang up Brendan Rodgers and said, “Can you get me Harry Maguire’s number?” I didn’t feel comfortable with myself.
‘I needed to ring him and say, “I don’t agree with the £80m but I shouldn’t have said that and I’m sorry”. I went a little bit too far.
‘He couldn’t believe it. Probably thought it was a joke. I don’t think he has had a fair crack. He’s struggling and he’s playing on the left when he’s right-footed.’
Merson has admitted that he overstepped the mark with Maguire, and it is not the only time his analysis has come back to haunt him.
The former Arsenal midfielder labelled Manchester City’s decision to pay £55m for Kevin De Bruyne in 2015 ‘a joke’, and was not impressed when Liverpool signed Mohamed Salah two years later after the pair had both struggled to make the grade at Chelsea.
The duo have gone on to become two of the best players in the Premier League in recent years, and Merson has held his hands up to making mistakes as a pundit, but he still feels he can hold his own in the studio most of the time.
Merson was critical of Man City for paying £55m for Kevin De Bruyne after he struggled at Chelsea
He was also surprised Liverpool signed Mohamed Salah after he failed to shine at Chelsea, but has now admitted he was wrong on both De Bruyne and Salah
‘People still come up to me when I’ve already said 50 times how great Kevin De Bruyne is,’ he continued.
‘I only said what I saw. I’m a Chelsea fan. I also saw Mo Salah at Chelsea. They didn’t cut it. They come back and are two of the best players in the world. It’s the right place at the right time.
‘I don’t like it when people go on there and say, “He’s clueless, sack him, he hasn’t got a brain”.
‘I’ve got good knowledge on football even if I get it wrong sometimes. Talk to me about politics, I’ve not got a clue. Football, I played all my life. Under the top managers. I know my football.
‘I’ll sit with anybody over a table and talk football. I confidently stood on Sky the other day with Gary Neville, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Roy Keane.
‘The hardest part is when you have to be critical of one of the best players who’s ever played football. Ronaldo was a 100 times better player than me and I’ve got to say Man United are not going to win anything with him in the team.’