England, Manchester United: the irresistible rise of Kobbie Mainoo


By: Manu Tournoux

The French team at Warren Zaire-Emery, England has its counterpart. The very young Kobbie Mainoo (18 years old) was called up for the Three Lions for the first time by Gareth Southgate, although he had initially been called up by the Espoirs. Here's one to whom we don't talk about age either. In just 23 games with Manchester United (2 goals), the midfielder has managed to establish himself as an obvious choice across the Channel. Some observers even wondered why his name was not included on the coach's first list.

An error quickly repaired by Southgate. No doubt he was also pushed by Ghana's pressing. The representatives of the Black Stars have been going out of their way since this summer to recruit the new nugget from Old Trafford. Regularly called up for the U17s, the U18s then the English U19s, the native of Stockport will ultimately not even have known the Espoirs (at least not yet). It is therefore someone accustomed to the workings of the youth selections who arrives at the A, joining the line of young talents of recent years.

Called up after 23 professional matches

Jude Bellingham received his first call-up in November 2020, aged 17, after 10 appearances for Borussia Dortmund and 44 with Birmingham City the previous season in the Championship. Bukayo Saka had waited until he was 19 before being included in the English list in October 2020, 44 Arsenal matches in his socks alone. “I was called up to the U21 side but I got a text from Steve Holland (Southgate's assistant) telling me to come and see him at reception (at St George's Park, England's Clairefontaine), and he told me that I'm going to train with the A's for the week”blurted out the person concerned.

“I don’t think I’ve realized it yet, but I’m excited.” continues the man who put in a huge performance against Liverpool in the FA Cup this weekend (4-3 victory for the Red Devils). This meeting probably swung Southgate's decision in the right direction, as he is looking for a driving force in midfield with a view to the Euro capable of supporting Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham. Kalvin Philipps disappeared from the selection, when Jordan Henderson's 33 years began to weigh (in addition to being a little diminished for this gathering).

Already a starter at Manchester United

An all-terrain, modern, particularly dynamic player, capable of dribbling one-on-one, the 1m75 right-hander could celebrate his first caps against Brazil (March 23) and against Belgium (March 26). To think that he was not yet part of Erik ten Hag's group last October. Associated with Casemiro most of the time, he is now one of the first names that the Dutchman puts on his team sheet, leaving experienced players like Scott McTominay, Sofyan Amrabat or Christian Eriksen on the bench.

He now has a very good chance of playing in the Euro this summer. “Kobbie is doing brilliantly for a young playersends Southgate. We never delay placing a young player with the A's, even if he has only played a few games. We have to be careful in making these decisions at the right time, and ideally, we should give him time to develop his level at his own speed. In the selection, Mainoo will find other members of the young generation such as Jarrad Branthwaite (21 years old, Everton) or Cole Palmer (21 years old, Chelsea), as if to better show the unlimited reserve of talent available in England.

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