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27th Nov 2023

Kobbie Mainoo’s “outstanding” league debut could set ruthless Man United transfer plan in motion

Patrick McCarry

Kobbie Mainoo

A couple of big-name players (and salaries) could be on the move.

The Saudi Pro League could ride to the rescue of Manchester United, again, with Jim Ratcliffe overseeing some big moves when he gets his legs under the desk at the club. The impressive league debut of Kobbie Mainoo may well speed up one of those deals.

Mainoo was very composed on his first start for Manchester United as he played a pivotal role in their 3-0 win against Everton. The 18-year-old was thrust straight into action following his return from injury. His only previous experience in the Premier League was when he came on as a late substitute in a win against Leicester City, back in February.

Mainoo made a vital goal-line clearance to keep United 1-0 up going into half time and was praised by Gary Neville and Roy Keane.

“There’s an 18-year-old out there who looks more composed than anyone,” Neville said during co-commentary duty for Sky Sports. “Mainoo has been Manchester United’s best player by a street. A brilliant, brilliant Premier League debut from him.”

Roy Keane added: “We don’t want to get too carried away but I’m sure we will.

“He looked like he always had time on the ball today, his decision-making, in terms of when to go long when to go short, in terms of off the ball as well. What an all-round performance.

“Good luck to the kid. He was outstanding. It’s a great start for him. Let’s hope he stays injury-free and gets a run of games for Man Utd because he looked a Man Utd type of player. Nice and brave, lots of courage. I loved watching him.”

United have reportedly been considering the idea of Casemiro being moved on in January. In a new report, from The Mirror, on Monday, it seems that Mainoo performance could hasten the Casemiro exit plans.

Kobbie Mainoo of Manchester United during the Premier League match against Everton, at Goodison Park. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Kobbie Mainoo grabbed the attention of Erik ten Hag and his coaching staff during pre-season. He looked good in friendlies against Lyon and Arsenal and was being ear-marked for a regular first team role until he picked up an injury.

Casemiro was excellent for United, last season, despite some disciplinary issues but looked sluggish and exposed in a handful of outings in the current campaign. The Brazilian is out with a hamstring injury until the new year but United are said to be looking at ways to move him on.

Mainoo may need to back up that Everton performance in upcoming games against the likes of Chelsea and Newcastle United before the club make any big calls, in January. Mason Mount has struggled for United this season, too, but will be given the full season, at least, to try and make his mark.

Elsewhere, United are being linked with a January priority transfer that only makes sense if they can move another player on.

Ten Hag has insisted that Harry Maguire and Raphaël Varane are currently battling it out for the same position in the United defence. With Lisandro Martinez due back in January, Varane could also be shopped to the Saudi clubs.

Football Insider reports that United have made Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi as their ‘No.1 January transfer target’. The 23-year-old never made the cut at Chelsea but has been a success at Palace and has picked up nine England caps since his debut against Switzerland in March 2022.

Guehi is contracted with Palace until June 2026 and is currently listed with a transfer value of €35 million. If United are sniffing, though, expect that price to tick around the €50m mark.

Jim Ratcliffe, chief executive of INEOS, is finalising plans to buy a 25% stake of United for 1 billion (sterling) and will look to implement a raft of changes when he arrives at the club.

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