United splashed out a record £80million to bring in Maguire, 26, from Leicester in the summer and were heavily linked with De Ligt after his stunning season for Ajax.
The young Dutchman, 20, had the pick of clubs around Europe and eventually moved to Juventus in a £67.5m deal.
And while former defender Pallister admits he would love to have seen both of them at Old Trafford, he believes Maguire is better suited to United’s style.
He told American gambler: “I would have been happy with either, or maybe both if I’m being greedy!
“It was a big season for De Ligt in the Champions League this year at Ajax and he looked the part.
“A young kid that looks like a proper centre half. He’s tough, he can play and the maturity that he played with stood him out as one of the top young defenders in Europe.
“You’ve got the ready-made player in Harry Maguire. He’s 26, he’s coming into his peak years and I’m very happy with our business this year.
“I would have been happy with De Ligt as well, but we’ve got a centre half in Harry who knows the game, understands the game and is at his peak and was desperate to play for Manchester United.
“Apparently he’s a United fan, and if he is, then you’re ticking all of the boxes with him.”
Maguire’s debut gave fans cause for optimism as he helped his new side to a clean sheet in a thumping 4-0 win over Chelsea at Old Trafford last weekend.
Asked whether Maguire could be a future United captain, Pallister said: “Yeah I do.
“He’s not afraid to put his head in where it hurts, he wins his tackles, he’s a big lad, a big unit and he has that presence that you need to be a captain and he leads by example.
“I’m not 100 per cent sure if he’d be a screaming and shouting captain, but you can have all different types of captains.
“You can have a Tony Adams or a John Terry who shout and scream, or you can have a [Eric] Cantona who doesn’t shout and scream but just leads by example on the pitch.
“I don’t know which category he falls into, but he looks a figure of authority within the side and I could definitely see him becoming United captain in the future.”
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