Kobbie Mainoo’s fabulous display during Manchester United’s 2-0 pre-season victory over Leeds in Oslo got the seal of approval from Red Devils team-mates Bruno Fernandes and Alejandro Garnacho.
Could this be the reason why Manchester United never really stepped up their interest in Brighton’s Moises Caicedo? After all, why spend nearly £100 million on a player when you’ve got your own Caicedo at home?
At the age of 18, Stockport-born Kobbie Mainoo is obviously still a work in progress. But what progression. The twinkle-toed teen was nothing short of outstanding during the first 45 minutes as Erik ten Hag’s mishmash team swept old rivals Leeds aside in the Norwegian capital, showcasing rare maturity and confidence in the ‘number six’ role.
Kobbie Mainoo shines as Manchester United beat Leeds
Mainoo’s awareness, composure and decision-making is phenomenal for one so young. And while much has been made of United’s need to bring in further depth in the midfield positions with Sofyan Amrabat among those linked, Mainoo – and the equally-impressive Hannibal Mejbri – may be on their way to convincing Ten Hag to spend his remaining budget elsewhere.
“What a performance kid,” an awe-struck Bruno Fernandes wrote on Instagram.
“You are the goat,” adds Alejandro Garnacho.
Mainoo made a handful of first-team appearances last season; Ten Hag mentioning him by name when discussing those who could potentially follow in Garnacho’s footsteps over the coming 12 months.
Breakthrough season incoming
“Man United has a big history of youth development,” Ten Hag said back in May, via talkSPORT. “And to develop (young players) and progress them into the first team. In our talks last year, that was one of the points we talked about.
“Of course, because I was in Ajax, Ajax was the same as Man United in developing young players; giving young players opportunities to work on their personality. If they feel that they are good people and they have a good life and they can contribute in society.
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“But we want to develop players into the first-team; Garnacho, Kobbie Mainoo is also on his way. There is a pathway to the first-team, but they have to deserve it.”