Exceptional @Euro 2024 – The rise of Man Utd star Kobbie Mainoo

Mainoo had been earmarked as a future first-team star during his progression through Man United’s famed academy.

Kobbie Mainoo, the youngest England player to feature in a semi-final at a major tournament, produced a sublime performance against the Netherlands that defied his 19 years. Mainoo was completely unfazed by the magnitude of the last four clash but his maturity has defied belief since making his first Manchester United start just eight months ago.

The midfielder earned the man of the match award on that occasion against Everton in November and he’s enjoyed a stratospheric rise since then. Mainoo only earned his England debut in March and his stunning breakthrough season was capped by scoring the winning goal in the FA Cup final. His first game of the season with in the UEFA Youth League but his last will be in the Euro 2024 final against Spain. The Man United academy graduate’s acclimatisation to the biggest stage has been immense considering his inexperience and he was, remarkably, Gareth Southgate’s third choice to start at No.8 at the start of Euro 2024.

Kobbie Mainoo incredible Euro 2024 campaign with England

Mainoo had been earmarked as a future first-team star during his progression through Man United’s famed academy.

“I think all of his performances have been exceptional, especially when you consider his age. We haven’t had a player like him until now,” was Southgate’s glowing verdict on Mainoo’s display against the Netherlands. Southgate – who has guided England to consecutive Euros finals – preferred Trent Alexander-Arnold alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham for England’s opening two games. Furthermore, when the Alexander-Arnold midfield experiment didn’t reap rewards, Southgate picked Conor Gallagher over Mainoo before ultimately seeing the light. Southgate’s decision to slowly integrate Mainoo into his starting eleven could’ve been based upon his inexperience – not only at the international level but also in senior football.

Before last season, Mainoo had only played ten minutes of first-team football for Man United. An unfortunate injury in preseason disrupted Erik ten Hag’s plan to unleash the Englishman and as the graphic above illustrates, Mainoo had played the fewest first-team minutes from the four semi-final teams before Euro 2024 started. His 2,665 senior minutes is considerably less than Spanish sensation Lamine Yamal (3325) and Warren Zaire-Emery (4520) – who rank second and third. The statistic puts Mainoo’s stratospheric rise across the 2023/24 season into perspective and he’s taken it all in his stride.

Mainoo had been earmarked as a future first-team star during his progression through Man United’s famed academy.

The Incredible Rise of Kobbie Mainoo

Mainoo’s incredible rise is reflected in his market value development. The midfielder gained his first valuation of €300k on Transfermarkt in November 2022 and that increased slightly to €800k by the start of last season. But Mainoo’s market value skyrocketed last season, increasing to €6 million in December’s update, €35m in March and it rose again in the final update of the season in June to his current valuation of €50m. As the graphic below highlights, Mainoo’s €44m market value increase since the start of 2024 is the most of any player in the year this year.

England has the most valuable international squad in the world and it’s littered with world-class players Mainoo only ranks as their 15th most valuable player. He is already the fourth most valuable player at Man United and the most valuable player born in 2005. Euro 2024 has seen the emergence of incredibly talented young players and Mainoo ranks as the seventh most valuable teenager on the planet.

Mainoo had been earmarked as a future first-team star during his progression through Man United’s famed academy.

How good is Kobbie Mainoo?

Mainoo had been earmarked as a future first-team star during his progression through Man United’s famed academy. Despite winning the FA Cup last season, United endured a disappointing campaign but Ten Hag’s trust in academy players like Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho was a silver lining. Mainoo possesses the desired characteristics of a central midfielder. He’s incredibly calm in possession, can manipulate his body to evade pressure and he uses the ball intelligently. Mainoo is sometimes labeled a No.6 but his best position is at No.8 where he’s allowed the license to get forward and linking play but he’s also effective from a defensive perspective. Mainoo has drawn comparisons to Clarence Seedorf and the legendary Dutch midfield believes similarities exist. In a recent interview, Seedorf said: “He (Mainoo) reminds me of a young me with his body and movement. But the thing that he has that I never did is his maturity on the ball at such a young age. The sky is the limit for him.”


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