Pre-season is the time for youngsters to make their mark, break down the door to the first team, and announce themselves.
Kobbie Mainoo has done exactly that for Manchester United this year and he is garnering rave reviews from the captain and coach alike.
In an interview with MUTV post-match, Bruno said that Kobbie is “a great player” who shows “great resilience”. He said that Mainoo is “pretty young” but the team and management “see a bright future for him”.
Manager Erik ten Hag sang a similar tune, saying he’s “playing with confidence”, describing his performance as “fantastic”.
Ten Hag marked him as someone who could continue the United tradition of academy youngsters making their way to the first team.
After another impressive performance against Arsenal, where he was up against esteemed names like Martin Odegaard and Declan Rice, Mainoo looked unfazed as he dictated the game from midfield.
He notched an impressive assist as well. A long ball behind the Arsenal backline by Tom Heaton was controlled expertly by him as he held his nerve and played it to Fernandes in space.
Beyond his assist, it was a calm and composed performance which belied his young age.
He was eager to be a part of the buildup, regularly dropping deep to pick the ball up from defenders to carry it forward.
In attack, he was constantly buzzing about providing a passing option to his teammates.
He has even shown improved defensive awareness and tackling game which has led Ten Hag to trust him with the role of the deepest midfielder in this pre-season.
The current version of Kobbie Mainoo, at just 18 years old has already proved he is Premier League-ready. He might have saved United millions in the transfer market if he continues his progress in competitive fixtures.