It takes something really special for a 17-year-old to be playing for Manchester United. Kobbie Mainoo seems to have it.
The FA Youth Cup winner has already impressed manager Erik ten Hag enough to call him up to the first team, and he is now a regular in the squad.
Against Reading he made just his second appearance for the Red Devils, and did not look over-awed at all.
Mainoo played 20 minutes in United’s 3-1 victory over Reading, with Casemiro (2) and Fred scoring the goals.
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Kobbie Mainoo stars v Reading
Kobbie Mainoo is only 17, and is still at the very start of his football development. What better way to learn, than to play competitive football under Erik ten Hag, alongside Manchester United’s stars?
He did not look at all out of place with his super-efficient performance in the win over Reading.
Mainoo completed 100 per cent of his passes, 25 from 25 attempts. These included two passes into the final third.
To accomplish this, Mainoo required excellent judgment and composure. Even though Reading were down to 10 men, they still pushed forward and took the game to United, scoring once.
Mainoo was untroubled, executing the nuts and bolts of his own game with finesse you would expect from a more experienced pro, belying fears he would be worried by the big stage.
It was unsurprising. This is a youngster who like Alejandro Garnacho, thrived in the FA Youth Cup winning team last season, winning the final in front of 70,000 fans. He is already used to this.
The teenager also won the one tackle he contested, made two ball recoveries, accomplishing all this in the 17 minutes he was on the pitch.
United need depth in midfield with Donny van de Beek injured, and Mainoo is demonstrating that he might be able to help fill in. Like the Charlton game in which he started, this was a test run.
Another test could be upcoming against Premier League opposition in midweek when United take on Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg. Mainoo has a chance to get minutes, probably from the bench, with United holding a 3-0 advantage.
Erik ten Hag will have liked what he saw from the youngster. Keeping possession is an important trait, and Mainoo has the ability to do so much more with the ball too.