Midfielder Kobbie Mainoo seems to be the latest gem to emerge from the coveted Manchester United academy. The 17-year-old has impressed fans with his bright performances in United’s mid-season friendlies recently.
Mainoo came on as a substitute against Cadiz and scored a neat goal too. His calmness on the ball, decision-making, athletic ability, and proactive attitude helped the youngster to comfortably perform his tasks around a more experienced opponent. He also came on from the bench in the 1-0 defeat to Real Betis.
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Kobbie Mainoo has also been training with the first team along with centre-back Rhys Bennett. The Manchester Evening News reported,
“It’s understood Mainoo is highly regarded among academy staff and he’s considered the leading light of his age group.”
“The Stockport-born youngster is yet to make his debut for the club, but he was named on the bench against Newcastle two months ago.”
The 17-year-old has already been linked with League One sides Bolton Wanderers, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth, and Ipswich Town. Interestingly, Ipswich is managed by Kieran McKenna, who coached the United U-18s between 2016 and 2018.
Kobbie Mainoo Poised For United First-team Breakthrough
However, Mainoo could well make his Manchester senior debut very soon. He has 2 goals and 2 assists from 10 games with the U-21 side so far (stats via Transfermarkt).
Erik ten Hag has seen 14 of his players be a part of the Qatar World Cup across the last month. With a gruelling schedule in 2023, the former Ajax coach would want to keep his core first-teamers fit and firing for the tail-end of the season.
An extended rest period after the World Cup could possibly open avenues for players like Mainoo to make their mark in the first team. United won 2-0 at home against Burnley in the EFL Cup and 3-0 against Nottingham Forest in the Premier League.
Mainoo has missed training with the U-21s, and could be involved with the senior team, and even possibly make his debut for United within the next month.
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Erik ten Hag has immense quality in depth in the squad for the attacking midfield role. Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen are world-class, while Donny van de Beek adds steel to the squad.
In the deeper midfield, Casemiro has anchored down his place as the defensive midfielder. If Kobbie Mainoo impresses, he can be experimented as the third midfielder in the system. The 17-year-old can be the link between the midfield and frontline. He can also add more quality to United’s ball retention in the middle of the park.
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