Harry Maguire has refuted the suggestion that he and Cristiano Ronaldo are involved in a power struggle over the Manchester United captaincy.
Maguire has been under an increasingly microscopic glare this season, with the United backline leaking goals and appearing to lack leadership during a run of patchy form.
And according to a report in the Mirror, Ronaldo’s totemic influence on the squad has led to claims that the Portuguese could be set to take the armband away from Maguire.
But England international Maguire – just as Marcus Rashford did a few days earlier to scotch a similar rumour from Bild journalist Christian Falk – took the unusual step of calling out and denying a specific story.
Posting on Twitter, Maguire wrote: “I’ve seen a lot of reports about this club that aren’t true and this is another.
“[I’m] not going to start posting about everything that is written but I needed to make this one clear.
“We’re united and focused on Sunday. Enjoy your day everyone.”
The Mirror report states that one of the principal reasons for Maguire feeling undermined by Ronaldo is boss Ralf Rangnick’s decision to give the ex-Real Madrid star mentorship responsibilities for the likes of Jadon Sancho, Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford.
That comes on top of rumours that Rangnick was considering taking away the captaincy from the 28-year-old in a bid to turn around his diminishing form.
United have won just once in their last four matches in all competitions, with the dropped points at home to Burnley and Southampton enough for the hovering sense of crisis to reappear around the club once again.
Rangnick will know the only way to reverse that is by winning matches, starting with his men’s trip to Leeds on Sunday.