Harry Maguire was given Manchester United captaincy duties "too early", according to Rio Ferdinand, who has expressed his belief that David de Gea would be a better fit for leadership.
United forked out a world record fee of £80 million ($108m) to sign Maguire from Leicester in August 2019, and less than six months later, he replaced Ashley Young as captain following the full-back's move to Inter.
Maguire has faced extra scrutiny ever since, and seems to have buckled under that pressure this season as the Red Devils have fallen to sixth in the Premier League table, leading to widespread calls for the armband to be passed on.
What's been said?
Ferdinand, who was never made United's official captain but deputised regularly during his 12-year career at Old Trafford, has suggested that Maguire was too inexperienced to take on such a big responsibility.
Asked whether the 28-year-old would have been dropped from the starting XI by now if he wasn't captain, the former Red Devils defender told : "The fact that he has had the armband has given him that grace. Which it would do. I think he was given it too early.
"It’s a hard enough job coming into Manchester United, getting your feet under the table and starting to feel comfortable as it is without the added pressure of being captain.
"Being captain is a massive responsibility, there is history that goes with it, a big weight on your shoulders.
"You need to experience being there for a period of time to carry that weight. It was more important for Maguire to come in and concentrate on becoming a Manchester United mainstay than being captain."
Ferdinand backs De Gea for the role
While Maguire is only halfway through his third season with United, De Gea has now been at the club for over a decade and has Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup winners' medals to his name.
Ferdinand has suggested that if interim boss Ralf Ragnick were to pass the captaincy burden onto De Gea it would ease the pressure on Maguire, with the squad currently preparing for a must-win home game against Wolves on Monday.
"The thing you can counter that [Maguire criticism] with is that there weren’t many captains at the club - who else are they going to pick?" he added.
"David de Gea would have been my choice because of the time he’s been there and he knows what it takes to win.
"This is all with hindsight but you have to got to think about these times that might come with someone like Harry Maguire, new at the club in that sense. And that added pressure is weighing on him heavily at the moment."
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