Kobbie Mainoo has signed a new long-term deal at Manchester United but what do we know about the young midfielder? We’ve done some digging to find out…
United have a rich history of producing some of the most thrilling young talents in English football. The club have a long tradition of naming academy graduates in the line-up or on the bench for years including the likes of David Beckham, Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford.
And we’ve collected together everything you need to know about the latest hot prospect off the Old Trafford conveyor belt.
His career so far
Born in Stockport in April 2005, Mainoo has already packed plenty into his embryonic career.
In United youth circles, his name has been generating anticipation and excitement for a long time. He was making appearances for the under-18 side when he was just 15.
Furthermore, he was also deemed good enough to turn out for the under-23s at just 16 years of age. Now at 17, he is the first name on the teamsheet at U23 level.
A graduate of Cheadle & Gatley junior football club, Mainoo scored twice in United’s run to the 2022 FA Youth Cup final, heading home at Old Trafford against Everton after a smart finish away at Reading in the fourth round.
He then helped the team beat Nottingham Forest in the showpiece game as United lifted the trophy for the first time in a decade.
And Mainoo was named on the bench for October’s Premier League match against Newcastle United. He’s been part of the matchday squad for five further league games, without getting on the pitch.
But the midfielder did start the League Cup win over Charlton in December and made a substitute appearance against Reading in an FA Cup victory last month; Erik ten Hag is clearly impressed by the youngster.
Style of play
The 17-year-old midfielder has already been compared to Pogba due to his technical skills, dribbling ability and impressive passing range.
Generally a central midfielder, he is comfortable playing in both, defensive midfield and attacking midfield to offer his side versatility and mobility.
Mainoo likes beating people with his dribbling skill in the middle of the park. He combines that with a highly-tuned passing ability and physicality. Blessed with great vision, the youngster’s game awareness are already beyond what people would expect from a player of his age.
Receiving the ball in tight spaces, he’s an expert at drawing out time and space from a difficult situation, always showing for the ball and never shirking responsibility.
In an ideal scenario, Mainoo could be the type of all-action, complete midfielder that United have arguably lacked since Michael Carrick.
What he’s said
Speaking to MUTV after his debut against Charlton, Mainoo said: “It is an unbelievable feeling, I have been at this club all my life and it’s all been building towards tonight. To have my family here watching me, it’s been amazing.
“Of course there were a few butterflies but it was exciting. I played at Old Trafford in the Youth Cup and I remember that feeling, it was an amazing feeling. So to have that again, it is always brilliant.”
He added: “I have been in training a few times with the lads and they have all made me feel welcome, they have all given me words of advice and encouragement. I have felt at home.
“To stay around and get more games is the ultimate goal, I have been at this club my whole life so that is the ultimate goal.”
What they’ve said
“Kobbie Mainoo is one of the best young players at United and he made his debut a few weeks ago,” former team-mate Tahith Chong told SkyBet in February 2023. “He’s a strong midfielder, technically very good – he is one to watch for the future.”
“Kobbie, from a very early age, was pushed from the reception pitch into year one because he was too good,” Steve Vare, Mainoo’s former youth coach at Cheadle and Gatley FC told Manchester Evening News last year.
“My thinking was, I’d try to organise the teams so the better players were against Kobbie, so he wasn’t on a team that would dominate the games.
“You’d end up pushing him against better players and I’d add rules like, you can only score with your left foot or I wouldn’t let him score, so he’d have to pass to a teammate. Things like that were important to keep challenging and testing him.
“Even at that young age, he was nippy, strong and very good. His biggest quality was his dribbling, but his strength was also good and he was quick, very hard to knock off the ball even at five and six, whereas for some kids it’s quite easy.
“Some children would fall on the floor but Kobbie didn’t. Once he was on the ball, it was really hard to get him off it and he would sort of dribble from one end to the other on the five-a-side pitch and score – it was all quite straightforward for him.”
“For him it’s a great opportunity, he did very well during the winter camp in Spain,” Ten Hag said before Mainoo’s debut. “He also did very well against Everton in a friendly. He deserved to play, so I’m happy to give him the opportunity. It’s about deserving it.”
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