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Manchester United to pay $97M for defender, source says

LONDON — Manchester United is set to break the world transfer record for a defender after agreeing to pay 80 million pounds ($97 million) to sign Harry Maguire from Leicester, a person with knowledge of the deal said Friday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the transfer for the 26-year-old Maguire has yet to be finalized.

United has been pursuing the center back for more than a year since his standout performances at the 2018 World Cup for England and finally agreed to Leicester’s asking price with just a week remaining in this summer transfer window ahead of the Premier League season opening.

The fee eclipses the deals for Matthijs de Ligt to leave Ajax for Juventus last month for 75 million euros (then $85 million), and for Virgil van Dijk to join Liverpool from Southampton for up to 75 million pounds in January 2018.

Leicester’s hand in the negotiations with United was strengthened by Maguire signing a new five-year contract last September. Leicester will be receiving 80 million pounds two years after paying around a fifth of that fee to sign Maguire from Hull.

As it stands, Maguire will be the seventh central defender at United going into the season, alongside Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Victor Lindelof, Marcos Rojo, Chris Smalling, and Axel Tuanzebe.

United opens its campaign against Chelsea on Aug. 11. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side is trying to return to the Champions League after finishing sixth in the Premier League last season.

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