Who is Kobbie Mainoo? Things to know about Man Utd talent
Manchester United fans have every reason to be excited about Kobbie Mainoo.
The 17-year-old played the second half of the club’s mid-season friendly against Cadiz on Wednesday night and impressed by scoring only two minutes after coming on.
A United side that featured very few first-team players due to many having been at or still active at the World Cup ultimately lost 4-2. But the emergence of Mainoo in particular was a particularly positive takeaway from the game.
His goal to pull it back to 2-2 after United had initially been 2-0 down was extremely well taken. The final effort took a deflection, but it did little to take anything away from what was an electric bit of movement to find space, receive the ball, turn and cut inside to make room for the shot.
Mainoo also had claims for a penalty turned down later in the second half.
The lack of senior stars available for the mid-season break in Spain means a number of youngsters have had the opportunity to impress Erik ten Hag.
“They get tested physically, mentally more than anything,” reserve team boss Mark Dempsey told club media ahead of the Cadiz game.
“They’ve had tough sessions, but they’ve coped really well with them and now the icing on the cake is being part of a first-team Manchester United side and going out and representing yourself and representing the Academy.”
As a result of his impact and what Ten Hag will have seen, Mainoo has already been tipped as the next academy player to make a first-team breakthrough.
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Mainoo is local to Manchester, born in Stockport to the south east of the city centre - one of the 10 boroughs that make up Greater Manchester.
It means he shares a home town with Manchester City star Phil Foden, as well as tennis legend Fred Perry, former world champion boxer Ricky Hatton and TV presenter Tess Daly.
'Creatively outstanding midfielder'
Mainoo's own profile on United's official website describes him as a 'creatively outstanding midfielder', giving fans an immediate idea of the type of abilities he has.
That same profile also describes 'excellent vision and technical ability' in central areas. That, in light of the goal he scored this week, suggests significant similarities to the aforementioned Foden.
FA Youth Cup winner
Mainoo made his debut for United's Under-18 team as early as October 2020 when he was still only 15. He was often involved off the bench for that age group that season, before becoming a regular in 2021/22, during which he also began to get chances with the Under-23s.
He started every game in the FA Youth Cup as United triumphed for the first time since 2011 in the prestigious competition, scoring twice in the earlier rounds against Reading and Everton.
Alejandro Garnacho, who has already become a first-team regular, was also part of that team.
Even though he only turned 17 in April of this year, Mainoo was promoted from the Under-18 squad to the Under-23 side for this season.
Despite going up against players several years older than him, as well as also facing the senior sides of Carlisle and Fleetwood in the EFL Trophy, Mainoo has featured regularly in Premier League 2 so far this season.
But Mainoo isn't brand new to the first-team squad on this mini-tour. He has trained often with the senior players since August, which ultimately presented him with the opportunity to land a place on the bench for the Premier League draw against Newcastle in October, albeit remaining unused.
It has become customary for United to assign first-team squad number to players still in the Under-23 ranks. As such, Mainoo wears the number 73 shirt. It was previously occupied by Zidane Iqbal, who was wearing it when he made his first-team debut in December 2021.
Mainoo actually replaced Iqbal against Cadiz, with the 19-year-old Iraq international having been chosen by Erik ten Hag to start the game.