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Kobbie Mainoo agrees with Erik ten Hag on ‘dream’ Man United signing that never happened



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Kobbie Mainoo has agreed with Erik ten Hag on a ‘dream’ signing that Manchester United were unable to complete last summer.

Mainoo, 19, emerged into the United first-team last season and performed excellently in the Old Trafford midfield. His FA Cup final-winning goal was the cherry on top of an impressive debut campaign.

The teenager was rewarded with a place in England’s squad for Euro 2024 – he appeared off the bench in the opening game victory against Serbia.

One player that he has enjoyed playing alongside for the Three Lions is Declan Rice. The pair started together against Belgium during the March international break, where Mainoo was awarded the Man of the Match.

“Dec is such a good player, reliable and dominant in the midfield. So, when I did get to play with him, it was always a joy to have someone so strong with the ball next to you,” Mainoo told reporters this week.

“Everyone knows he’s worth every penny. He’s such a good player. He’s proved it in the Premier League and internationally. [Playing with him] frees me up a lot and allows me to go forward and attack and trust that he’s there. It’s a dream.”

That dream could’ve become a reality at Old Trafford, with Rice being a long-term target at United before his eventual move to Arsenal.

The former West Ham captain was a player that Ole Gunnar Solskjær appreciated, and a recent report from The Athletic has explained that Ten Hag wanted to sign the midfielder as well.

It was detailed that Rice was ‘very interested’ in joining United in the summer of 2022, but the club saw Casemiro as a more attainable signing. The Brazilian joined from Real Madrid for a £70 million package.

Last summer, Ten Hag pushed for Rice once again, judging his blend of physicality, quality and mentality to be the right mix to elevate United’s foundation. However, by that point, United were behind the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City in the race.

Instead, the club ultimately pressed ahead with signing Mason Mount, who was seen as a versatile player of excellent quality. Injuries impacted his debut season at Old Trafford.

Mainoo certainly enjoys linking up with Rice, now at Arsenal, on international duty. But some will be thinking that they should’ve been teammates at club level as well.