The young midfielder has been one of the few shining lights in Manchester United’s poor season. His late winning goal in their 4-3 away win at Wolves underscored how special of a talent he is.
The Red Devils have been terrible in the first half of this Premier League season. Pre-season talk of a title challenge seems laughable now, and United currently stand at 1000/1 in the Premier League with some major bookmakers. The emergence of central midfielder Kobe Mainoo has been one of the few positives United fans can take from the season.
The 18-year-old featured heavily in pre-season, but a poorly timed injury meant he missed the opening fixtures of the Premier League. It’s no coincidence that Ten Hag’s side produced one of their best performances of the campaign in his debut, sweeping aside Everton in a dominant 3-0 win.
Since his impressive debut, he has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of United’s most influential players. His composure and ability to retain possession are extremely impressive for such a young central midfielder. These fundamental traits for his position usually develop with experience, but Mainoo has shown he already possesses them in just eight Premier League appearances.
A fantastic goal can lead to a young player being slightly overhyped, but this doesn’t seem likely to apply to Mainno. Manchester United have a strong record for homegrown stars, having named at least one youth product in every matchday squad in the last 85 years. It’s a record that began in 1937, when Manchester United youngsters Tom Manley and Jack Wassall wore the famous red at Fulham.
Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho are the current big-name youth products in United’s first-team picture. As attackers, both are more likely to produce goals and assists, but Mainoo has shown the potential to reach higher levels in his position than both have achieved.
Paul Pogba is another united youth product that could stake a claim to being the best since the Class of ’92. Despite his return to Manchester being a disappointment, Pogba’s natural talent and ability cannot be denied. When the World Cup winning Frenchman was on form, he was one of the best central midfielders in the world.
While it’s a small sample size, Mainoo has shown the potential to grow into a world-class central midfielder. His goal against the Wolves shows he is not simply a defensive or holding midfielder but one who can also produce attacking quality in the future.
This mix of traits and abilities truly differentiates him from other young players in his position. If his development continues at a similar rate, he will undoubtedly be among the best youth products United have produced in a long time.