Home » Kobbie Mainoo – ‘Expected to stay and play’ at Man United next season

Kobbie Mainoo – ‘Expected to stay and play’ at Man United next season

by Darragh Fox

Manchester United’s midfield has been an area of acute attention for Erik ten Hag this summer, as the Dutchman continues a comprehensive overhaul of his squad.

An energetic number eight, capable of playing in both directions, was the primary objective, with Mason Mount signed as ten Hag’s number one target. The starting midfield moving forward appears to be a triumvirate of Casemiro, Mount and Bruno Fernandes.

In modern football, however, depth is as important a consideration as the first choice. Reports claim Scott McTominay and Fred, the notorious ‘McFred’ duo, may both be sold this summer, with Ten Hag ‘intent on offloading’ the pair.

West Ham are said to be ‘interested’ in McTominay while Galatasaray are reportedly in talks over a deal for Fred, with interest in the Brazilian from Fulham and Saudia Arabian clubs also existing. While it may provide therapeutic relief for United fans to not have to see either of these players in a red shirt again, their departures would leave the engine room looking light.

Which is where Kobbie Mainoo factors in.

The Athletic reports the prodigious youngster will play a prominent part in Ten Hag’s plans next season. The Dutchman is said to “love him to madness” and retains a high level of trust in Mainoo’s ability, despite his footballing infancy.

Mainoo is a “long way ahead of schedule” and there are currently “no plans to send him out on loan”, as may be expected for an academy player at this stage of their progression. Instead, The Athletic relays Mainoo is “expected to remain part of the first-team squad”, as he has been since Christmas.

United’s most utilised midfield pivot last season was Casemiro and Christian Eriksen – two 31-year-olds who appeared to run out of steam at times. The inclusion of an 18-year-old makes sense for both the short-term, and long-term, future of the midfield.

Yet it is the “precocious ability” Mainoo possesses which is fundamentally driving his inclusion, not his age nor his fresh legs.

The U-19 England international was entrusted with the deepest-lying midfield position in the pre-season friendly against Leeds, impressing with his comfort on the ball and his progressive passing. There is a maturity to Mainoo’s game which explains his accelerated path to first-team football.

The midfield is the most difficult area of the pitch for young players to adapt to men’s football. The escalation in pace and physicality can often overwhelm players as they struggle to find a footing in the game. Mainoo’s ability to slow play down, in a calm and technically proficient manner, will undoubtedly be at the forefront of Ten Hag’s admiration.

Eriksen constitutes the midfielder most adept at this tempo-setting style of football at United. Yet his age, and lack of physicality, make him unable, or unsuitable, to play every game. An understudy, in the talented mould of Mainoo, will have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate their skillset across the course of an entire season.

By the end of the year the Old Trafford faithful may “love him to madness” as much as his manager does.

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