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Erik ten Hag praises ‘fantastic’ Kobbie Mainoo after Arsenal win

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Manchester United's Kobbie Mainoo

Kobbie Mainoo’s recent preseason performances attracted Erik ten Hag’s attention

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has made his feelings clear for young talent Kobbie Mainoo after yet another impressive preseason performance.

The 18-year-old started alongside Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes in the new-looking midfield department against Arsenal.

And Ten Hag was full of praise for Mainoo’s decent showing, indicating that the youngster will be given ample opportunities to showcase his talent on the big stage.

With the coach’s confidence in him, the young midfielder’s presence in United’s lineup is likely to be a notable feature in the upcoming campaign.

Erik ten Hag praises Kobbie Mainoo's impressive preseason performances (Image Credit- Getty Images)
Erik ten Hag praises Kobbie Mainoo’s impressive preseason performance against Arsenal (Image Credit- Getty Images)

The Academy graduate reached a significant milestone in his career when he made his debut for the club’s first team against Charlton Athletic in January. He continued to make progress throughout the season, as he made three first-team appearances last season.

During the current summer pre-season, Mainoo has been given valuable opportunities to showcase his skills, as he started in all three of Man United’s friendly matches.

One notable occasion was when he played the first half in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Arsenal in New Jersey. He was comfortable with the ball at his feet and was able to outshine opposition star players like Declan Rice and Martin Ødegaard.

Following the match against Arsenal, Ten Hag took the opportunity to talk about the club’s group of young players and had particular admiration for the teenage midfielder.

He also revealed that Mainoo is making a strong impression and could be a key player for United in the future. While talking to MUTV (h/t the Manchester Evening News), the gaffer said:

“It’s fantastic. Manchester United are famous for always bringing young players through and he can be one, but we have to see. We have confidence, he’s playing with confidence and I really liked his performance.”

“He showed it, then in the spring he got injured, so we’re really happy there are more youngsters with us now and they’re all doing very good, but I don’t want to rise expectations too high.”

“We have to see, the Premier League is tough, but definitely, you can see, we have some really good young players who can play a role in our squad. But the bar is high.”

Mainoo could be the missing puzzle in United’s midfield unit

Ten Hag faces the tricky task of rebuilding the midfield position this summer. Sofyan Amrabat is a primary target for this role, but his arrival might be contingent on Fred leaving the club.

The era of McFred seems to be coming to an end at Old Trafford. Their futures have become uncertain, especially after the remarkable influence shown by Casemiro during the previous season.

Kobbie Mainoo could be a future star for the Red Devils (Image Credit- Getty Images)
Kobbie Mainoo could be a future star for the Red Devils (Image Credit- Getty Images)

In contrast, Mainoo appears to possess all the necessary skills and qualities to take on a prominent role and excel in United’s midfield for years to come.

He seems to be a perfect fit for Ten Hag’s vision for the team. Given Mainoo‘s abilities, it would not be surprising to witness him consistently initiating attacking moves from deep positions for United.

During the summer, there were rumours surrounding the youngster and the possibility of a loan move. However, it appears that the Dutch boss has a place for the midfielder in his plans for the upcoming season.

It would be wise if the Red Devils prefer not to send the defensive midfielder out on loan after an impressive performance against the Gunners.

Instead, the young midfielder could receive more first-team opportunities in the upcoming season as the manager sees the value in keeping him around the senior squad. He could gain valuable lessons from Casemiro and then later fill in the veteran midfielder’s shoes at Man United.

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While the club has already sold several of their prospects, including Charlie Savage, Ethan Laird, and Zidane Iqbal, they would need a different plan for Mainoo.

United intends to nurture and develop his talent within the first-team setup, recognising his potential to contribute significantly in the upcoming season.

The fans would certainly expect Mianoo to be a future midfield star at Old Trafford.