James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Transfer sagas and major tournaments

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The Mexican stand-off regarding Harry Maguire’s future is, with all due respect to President Enrique Pena Nieto and his people, becoming pretty damn tiring.

More tiring than an afternoon in the Acapulco sunshine if I’m being perfectly frank.

Sheffield United, Hull City and Wolverhampton Wanderers all want the player.

None of them want to pull the metaphorical trigger first.

Nigel Clough’s side, of course, enjoy an advantage because they hold his contract and do not have to sell.

But, showing no inclination to increase their valuations of the 21-year-old centre-half, Maguire’s suitors clearly believe they are in pretty strong positions themselves.

Particularly if he decides to try and force United’s hand by requesting or agitating for a transfer.

Which is why, thank goodness, I’d expect this mind-numbing saga to reach a conclusion, or at least become a little clearer, when Clough’s squad reports for pre-season training next week.

Fingers crossed for the sanity of all concerned. Because it threatens to become positively tortuous.

Even Kenny Jackett, the Wolves head coach, appears to be tiring.

Ultimately, as is always the case in these situations, Maguire’s demeanour is likely to decide whether he stays or goes. Actions speak louder than words and you don’t have to read too closely between the lines to realise he is tempted by opportunities elsewhere.

Otherwise, irrespective of whether Maguire eventually stays or goes, the package United recently presented to his representative, (and which, I’m told, is extremely competitive), would have been signed a long, long while ago.

If he continues to apply himself properly - and there is no reason to suggest he won’t - then Clough will regard Maguire as being available for selection. If not then, in my humble opinion, United should try and achieve the best possible price and sell. Especially given the importance the former England international places upon fostering a good atmosphere behind the scenes. No individual, no matter how promising, should be allowed to dent the spirit of togetherness which, as regular visitors to United’s training complex can testify, presently exists.

Hopefully everything is resolved before Maguire’s legacy and standing among United supporters is put at risk. Clough, whose brutally frank briefings represent a welcome change to the type of double-speak journalists are usually confronted by when the long-term future of a player is in doubt, has made it plain that United were not responsible for withdrawing from discussions about handing Maguire a new deal.

Footballers, quite rightly, are allowed to move. But timing and destination are everything if they do.

Some of those who have left United in the past are now very rich young men but absolute irrelevances at their new clubs because they departed too early. Phil Jagielka, it could be argued, stayed at United perhaps a shade too long but instantly became a fixture in Everton’s starting eleven and has just represented his country at the World Cup.

That is the benefit of regular, first team exposure. The importance of which, in terms of any footballer’s education, can not be underestimated.

Meanwhile, on an entirely different note, an email landed in my inbox earlier this week (before the meeting with Costa Rica) containing a fascinating statistic about England’s less-than-impressive performances at major tournaments.

The Three Lions won 130 games in the 22 years before the Premier League’s foundation and 132 in the 22 since. Draws totalled 70 and 68, now 69, respectively while defeats during both timeframes are 45. So, with England’s win percentage slightly higher since the PL’s inception, could it be that, rather than simply blaming an influx of foreign players, we should ask ourselves whether the domestic talent England produces is equipped with the basic tools required to do a job? Whatever your standpoint, those figures provide some interesting food for thought.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1