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New talent from the MU academy is already making waves in the Premier League and the national team. Who is Kobbie Mainoo?

This season has arguably been one of the most eventful in recent years regarding the number of new names emerging in top-flight football. Only recently had a few people (unless you're a Man United fan) heard of Kobbie Mainoo. Still, he's already being compared to Paul Pogba, Michael Carrick, and other Red Devils legends in Manchester.

Remember last summer when Erik ten Hag pleaded with the Manchester United bosses to buy him Frenkie de Jong? That transfer is now irrelevant. After all, in the current Man United setup, Mainoo is doing just fine in precisely the same role that Frenkie played under Ten Hag at Ajax – a box-to-box midfielder, circulating all over the field from his own penalty area to the opponents. Mainoo is a versatile player overall (the coach once joked that he could deploy him as a center forward). His dynamic role on the field complements the work of Casemiro, who cements (at least theoretically) Manchester's midfield. Together, they provide the necessary grunt work, allowing the player above them (usually Bruno Fernandes) to focus on creativity.

Amidst the chaos at the club, Mainoo appears remarkably mature and composed for his age. He excels in pressing, is ready to carry out individual tasks, and is immune to external factors — Kobbie adeptly receives and holds the ball under pressure. His coolness is also reflected in the statistics: he averages 2-3 tackles, almost 2 clearances, over 1 block, and an interception per 90 minutes.

Such confidence and quality in defensive work have even convinced the conservative Gareth Southgate – the 19-year-old Mainoo has already played for the national team in March matches against Brazil and Belgium, earning many compliments for his performances. However, there is room for improvement for the Englishman: he clearly needs to work on his ball movement, his passing accuracy still has room for improvement (84%, a rather average figure for a midfielder), and enhancing his creative skills is an untapped area.

Published by Patrick Jane