Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag says centre-back Harry Maguire remains an “important player” despite taking the captaincy away from him.
Ten Hag said he chose to give the armband to Bruno Fernandes because of his inspirational qualities.
Most perceive the switch as signalling the end of Maguire’s United career.
“Everyone can understand it is disappointing for a player, but it can actually work out well for the team and for Harry,” said Ten Hag.
United’s all-time top scorer Wayne Rooney has said recently that leaving the club would be the “best thing” for England defender Maguire, 30.
Ten Hag continued: “He stays an important player. He can fight himself into the team. He has potential and it’s up to him to get his position.
“Now he can focus more on his role, but a centre-back has to communicate and organise. It’s a big area where you have to perform as a centre-half.”
The other major decision taken by Ten Hag since United’s FA Cup final defeat by Manchester City on 3 June has been to spend £47.2m to bring in Cameroon goalkeeper Andre Onana from Inter Milan following the exit of long-serving David de Gea.
Ten Hag described Spaniard De Gea as a “legend” but evidently he is looking forward to being reunited with Onana, 27, after the pair spent five years together at Ajax.
“He is a personality, yes, but he is absolutely a winner,” he said.
“I have always worked well with him. We achieved so many trophies together and played great football.
“I am convinced of him but this is a better club, in a better competition, with more fans across the world. The demands are higher but he wants to have the challenge.”
Although he has secured the goalkeeper he wanted, as well as the attacking midfielder he felt his squad needed in Mason Mount from Chelsea, Ten Hag is still searching for a new striker.
He refused to discuss United’s early summer move for Harry Kane, which was quickly abandoned when it became obvious Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy was not interested in selling to a top-four rival.
However, the Dutchman made no secret that the hunt is continuing, with Atalanta’s 20-year-old Denmark international Rasmus Hojlund and Eintracht Frankfurt’s 24-year-old French forward Randal Kolo Muani believed to be his main targets.
“We are doing everything in our power to get the right man in,” said Ten Hag.
“In the transfer market, you never know, but we know our targets and we are putting every effort in to get this done because it’s an area where we need improvement.”
One notable absentee from United’s touring party is Mason Greenwood, who, in top form, would solve Ten Hag’s striking issues.
However, the 21-year-old remains unavailable for selection as United continue their internal investigation into the events that surrounded him being charged with rape and number of other serious offences in 2022.
Those charges have now all been dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service which, in theory, leaves Greenwood free to resume his career.
Ten Hag confirmed he has given club officials his observations.
“Of course I have said my ideas and opinions but it’s a club decision,” he said. “We all have to accept that.”
There has been no clarity either over United’s search for ‘strategic alternatives’ over ownership of the club the club, with Glazer family having launched the process for a potential transfer of power last November.
Most felt the process would result in the Glazers selling the club, with Sheikh Jassim of Qatar and and British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos group lodging numerous bids. It had been anticipated that, whatever the outcome, the process would have been concluded by now.
Neither has happened. And, with the Glazers due to be present within the United camp at stages during the next 10 days, Ten Hag says it is a good opportunity to offer his opinions on the subject.
“It is a good opportunity to share ideas and we can talk informally,” he said. “It is obvious I can give advice and recommendations but the decision is on the club.”