Sheffield United defender shows why he is destined for the Premier League

Bramall Lane Sheffield United

Harry Maguire showed why top-flight scouts have been monitoring his progress this term with a commanding display during his side's FA Cup win over Charlton.

When does a footballer go from being a youngster to a young star? Well, in the case of Sheffield United's Harry Maguire, yesterday may have been the moment which caps his rise to stardom.

Blades fans may find themselves ever so slightly offended that attention is only being drawn to his abilities now and not earlier but the fact Maguire was so instrumental in his side's win over Charlton in an FA Cup quarter-final - which takes them to Wembley no less - served to showcase these on the biggest stage.

Maguire has faced off against four higher-ranked teams in this season's competition, with the Blades defying the odds to reach a first final-four berth since 2003.

His stock has been on the up all season long but it is rammed home to those not familiar with the Sheffield-born defender just what a prodigious talent the Steel City outfit have on their hands and, ultimately, how difficult it could prove to hold onto him.

Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have all been credit with holding an interest in him and certainly on yesterday's evidence, it was easy to see why.

The most startling aspect of his commanding display was his ability to surge upfield with the ball glued to his feet, showing endeavour and bravery in taking the ball on the run and running through central areas with such control and ease.

A trait considered so atypical of the conventional English centre half, his authority on the ball stands him in good stead for undoubted bigger battles ahead, not least the semi-final against Hull City, where he will be coming up against top-tier strikers for the third time in the competition.

It is hardly a challenge that fazes Maguire, however, having played his part in silencing the likes of Christian Benteke and Andreas Weimann in securing a third-round win at Aston Villa but the cup-tied Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic's absences will be greatly received nonetheless.

A ball-playing centre half, a pigeon hole Maguire certainly fulfils the criteria for, should not be the only way of describing the 21-year-old's talents, however.

The rugged nature of his defending yesterday left Simon Church poleaxed on the Bramall Lane turf at one point and he was aerially superior to the likes of Marcus Tudgay too, when the Addicks' strange tactics eventually resulted in a bombardment of long balls towards the United area.

Maguire, along with the equally adept Neill Collins, was able to repel just about every thing that came his way and his composure in working the ball out of defence marked him out amongst a host of heroic performances on a historic Sunday for the Blades.

The last time they reached this stage, they were thwarted by Arsenal and, in particular, David Seaman after the shot-stopper's remarkable save to deny Paul Peschisolido. 

This time it will be Maguire hoping to put the kibosh on opponents' hopes of progressing to the final and the platform is well and truly set now to demonstrate his considerable potential.

All eyes will be on one man in the Wembley showpiece. Maguire can continue boosting his reputation and also put himself in the shop window in the process by shining on a stage he seems destined for.

image: © nicksarebi

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