Man Utd star Kobbie Mainoo sends message to Erik ten Hag with top-notch display

Manchester United starlet Kobbie Mainoo grabbed Erik ten Hag’s attention with an eye-catching individual performance for the Red Devils’ U21s on Tuesday. The midfielder, who is close to a full return from injury, shone during an EFL Trophy clash with Salford.

Mainoo broke into the United team last season, making three appearances under Ten Hag. The United boss was keen to integrate the England youth sensation ahead of this campaign, but a devastating injury suffered against Spanish giants Real Madrid halted his progress.

The 18-year-old played 45 minutes in the UEFA Youth League last week before making his full comeback in the visit to Salford. United’s youngsters were beaten 4-3 due to two late penalties, but Mainoo was the best player on the pitch.

Showcasing his ability to collect the ball from a deep position, Mainoo was confident with his passing. He often opted to dribble forward with the ball, bursting through the lines. Those are skills United have lacked in their senior team, with no midfielder able to grasp control of a game this season.

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Mainoo capped his display with two assists. Shola Shoretire struck twice while Omari Forson bagged a third, putting United 3-2 up before they suffered from a spirited late comeback by the Class Of ‘92-backed Salford.

The youngster is now surely in line for a return to the first-team set-up. Ten Hag recently said Mainoo was ‘close’ and predicted that he might earn minutes in United’s Champions League clash with Copenhagen last week. That did not happen, but the 53-year-old said on October 20: “He is close.

“He is already training with us. I think next week he will have some minutes in the team. So then he can catch up his game minutes. So he is really improving and ready to get back in the squad for games.”

Mainoo’s return to fitness comes as former United team-mate Anthony Elanga backed him to become a ‘top player’ and compared some of his attributes to those of Paul Pogba.

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Asked who United’s best young talent is, the now-Nottingham Forest winger Elanga said: “Kobbie Mainoo. He is one of my close guys that I still speak to at United and I believe he is next the top one, his talent is unreal.

“He has got everything and I just hope United can look after him really well and let him flourish. He is a top player.

“When I played with him in the academy I always thought he had similar attributes to Paul Pogba. They are not the same player but just the way he moves and they can both do everything, defensive, offensive, he has a mixture of everything and is really good on and off the ball.”

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