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Harry Maguire: Cristiano Ronaldo is the greatest player to play the game

Sep 01, 2021 | 16:08:PM

Harry Maguire considers Cristiano Ronaldo to be the best footballer of all time and cannot wait to line up alongside the returning Manchester United great.

Shockwaves were sent around the footballing world on Friday as the Old Trafford giants swept in to strike a deal with Juventus for the 36-year-old, just as the forward appeared to be edging towards rivals Manchester City.

Ronaldo completed the move on deadline day, signing a two-year deal with the option of a further season at a club where he is revered thanks to a memorable, success-laden stint between 2003 and 2009.

The Portuguese is set to receive a hero’s welcome when he makes his second United debut against Newcastle after the international break, with captain Maguire ecstatic to see the forward sign.

“It’s amazing,” the defender said. “Obviously I’m away with England at the moment so my focus is on the game tomorrow but for him to sign back for the club (is amazing).

“For me, the greatest player to play the game.

“It’s amazing to have him at the club. I’m sure he’s going to have a big impact on and off the field and many players can look and learn and improve.

“Obviously he’s going to improve our team as well with his goalscoring record. It’s amazing to have him at the club. I’m looking forward to meeting him in a few days.”

Maguire’s excitement at Ronaldo’s arrival has been put on the backburner as he prepares to line-up in England’s first match since the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

Harry Maguire is preparing to take on Hungary on Thursday
Harry Maguire is preparing to take on Hungary on Thursday (PA)

The wounds from July’s penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley remain raw but attention turns to building on their summer progress when resuming their World Cup qualification campaign in Hungary on Thursday.

“Obviously it ended in disappointment but the journey and the memories that we made, the smiles that we put on people’s faces were there for everyone to see,” Maguire said.

“It was a great journey, obviously disappointment at the end to come so close to being European champions – a penalty shoot-out away – so we know we’re nearly there.

Harry Maguire after England's Euro 2020 final defeat
Harry Maguire after England’s Euro 2020 final defeat (Nick Potts/PA)

“We’ve got lots of things to improve on and, yeah, I think it is a big test, more mentally than physically. It’s one that us players have got to look after.

“We’ve spoke about it and we need to be ready because we know it is going to be a tough test against Hungary.

“If we’re not ready mentally, we won’t perform to our best and we won’t get the result that we need.

“Of course the mentality of the squad will be tested and we need to overcome that and show what we’re about.”

Maguire was named in UEFA’s team of the tournament after making a stellar return from injury as England reached just their second ever major tournament final.

It was an unforgettable ride that came to a crushing end, which has led to criticism from some.

“A penalty shoot-out defeat in the final of the European Championships is the finest of margins you can get,” Maguire added. “We use it as more motivation.

“We don’t really read the negative energy. We stay positive.

“It’s a test for us as a group now to make sure that we bounce back from the disappointment, starting tomorrow with a good performance and a good result.

“The only thing you can do is look forward to what you’ve got, what you can improve on, and where you can go in the future.

“We know how close we are but we’ve still got a lot of work to do and a lot of improvement to be made and we’ll do that.”