Depleted Manchester United dealt late blow as Harry Maguire ruled out of PSG clash

Mike McGrath
·4-min read
Harry Maguire is struggling with a muscle injury - JON SUPER
Harry Maguire is struggling with a muscle injury - JON SUPER

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been dealt a blow on the eve of Manchester United’s return to the Champions League with Harry Maguire ruled out through injury. Bruno Fernandes will captain the team against Paris Saint-Germain. 

Maguire picked up a muscle injury at the weekend and is now a concern for Saturday's match against Chelsea. He adds to the injury problems faced by Solskjaer as his squad travelled to France without Edinson Cavani, Mason Greenwood, Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard. 

The United manager announced his captain to face last year’s finalists as Fernandes sat next to him at the pre-match press conference, which came as a surprise to the Portugal midfielder who has only been at the club for nine months. 

“We hope Harry will be fit for the weekend, we're not sure but we hope. The captain sits next to me, Bruno will captain the team,” said Solskjaer. “We've lost a couple, so that's Bailly who didn't travel and Lingard didn't travel. We're a little bit depleted but have more than enough players.”

Fernandes’ elevation to skipper could be seen as a snub to Paul Pogba, who was stripped of the vice-captaincy during Jose Mourinho’s time at United. PSG midfielder Ander Herrera, who faces his old club, suggested Pogba would be on the list of Ballon D’Or nominees if he was part of a team winning important titles. 

Paul Pogba arrives in Paris for the clash with PSG - GETTY IMAGES
Paul Pogba arrives in Paris for the clash with PSG - GETTY IMAGES

“If they are capable of fighting for every trophy he will be on that list,” said Herrera. “But you always need to have the team to fight for the titles to be there.”

Solskjaer has described Pogba as a potential leader of his team but his standing in the pecking order reflects the huge impact Fernandes has made since arriving from Sporting Lisbon in January. 

“I was not expecting this, for me it's an honour. I will be captain for my team-mates and being captain of Manchester United is an important achievement for me,” said Fernandes. “But I think everyone is the captain, everyone needs to help and be a leader in their own way. Leadership is different in every player. 

“It will not be about me but the team. Leading is every day in the training ground, every game, and everyone is doing their job to lead the team in the way they think is best.”

While there will be no fans watching, the fixture will bring back fond memories for Solskjaer after United's victory in 2019 when he masterminded a stunning comeback and earned himself the managers’ job on a permanent basis. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after United beat PSG in 2019 - ACTION IMAGES
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrates after United beat PSG in 2019 - ACTION IMAGES

His team has completely changed since then, with Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku and Ashley Young all departing for Italy. Solskjaer says this is the first test for a team he has assembled himself. 

“Everyone wants to be in the Champions League, to play against the best teams in the world and we've drawn one finalist, Red Bull Leipzig were semi-finalists and we’ve got the pleasure of welcoming Rafael (with Istanbul Basaksehir) back so it’s a fantastic group for us, every game will mean a lot and be important for us. This team has just started and it is the first time this team can play together against the best.

“Bruno has definitely come in and had a great, positive impact. The stats show that and his performances have been receiving great praise as well. He has come in and, if not changed the team, sparked something in the team and hopefully we've sparked something in his career. That was a turning point in our season last season and we hope for more to come.

James Ducker's Man Utd briefing
James Ducker's Man Utd briefing

“Of course that last game (against PSG) is history for us, it's in the past. Great history, a great game, but it has no impact whatsoever on this game,” said Solskajer. “We're a different team, they're a different team, it's a different stage of the competition. Of course without fans it's gonna be a different game.”

Solskjaer also denied that Greenwood and Brandon Williams were omitted from the weekend’s squad for disciplinary reasons. He revealed that Williams has travelled with the squad to France but would not reveal Greenwood’s injury.  

“I can't declare medical stuff can I? We hope it's just a niggle and we don't want to take any chances with him and hopefully at the weekend it'll be fine again,” he said.

Team news 

PSG (probable 4-3-3): Navas - Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bakker - Herrera, Danilo, Gueye - Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappe 

Man Utd (probable 3-4-3): De Gea - Matic, Lindelof, Shaw - Wan-Bissaka, McTominay, Fernandes, Telles - Mata, Martial, Rashford