Erik ten Hag will be keeping a keen eye on the young talent within the Manchester United squad throughout pre-season this summer.
It was however Kobbie Mainoo, the central midfielder, who stole the show on the afternoon. The 18-year-old lined up alongside the ‘stronger’ team for the first 45 minutes which included the likes of Raphael Varane, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and new signing Mason Mount.
His exciting performance would only last the half, as Ten Hag would make eleven changes at the break to give chances to other youngsters and provide everyone with a suitable amount of minutes for the first game back.
However, there is no doubt that the English talent will continue to get chances throughout the remaining seven friendly games and beyond at Old Trafford.
The latest reports from Mark Critchley of The Athletic have explained that United have no plans currently to send the midfielder on loan for the upcoming season and instead he is expected to continue as a member of the first-team squad at the club.
Mainoo made his debut against Charlton in the Carabao Cup quarter-final win last term and would go on to make two more appearances before injury hampered the possibility of further inclusions in the back-end of the season.
Highly rated within the United set-up, Mainoo attracted a good amount of interest within the football league last January for a potential loan deal but the club decided against a move due to the potential for opportunities at Old Trafford and the benefits from working with Ten Hag and the squad in training each day – which speaks wonders about his ability at just 18 years of age.
The Dutch manager was seen in conversations with the youngster following the victory in the Carabao Cup final. Mainoo was not in the matchday squad but celebrated on the pitch afterwards. Ten Hag’s gestures towards his player in that moment suggested that rumours that he rates him highly are incredibly accurate.
In fact, the aforementioned report from The Athletic would add that the United boss is said to “love him to madness” and trusts Mainoo’s abilities.
Whilst loan moves are key for the development of many players, others can blossom without a move away. Mainoo’s talent level at such a young age means that he can be moulded at Carrington, whilst working with some of the best players in the country, as well as offering genuine support to United’s midfield.
Elsewhere, we have seen how this type of decision can bare fruits if you have the right talent. Phil Foden remained at Manchester City working under Pep Guardiola during the early years of his professional career when many believed he should’ve been sent out to learn his trade elsewhere with more game-time guaranteed.
Instead, the England international was able to hone his skillset under one of the best managers in the world and he hasn’t looked back since. United will be hoping for a similar trajectory for their own talented midfielder.
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