Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ferdinand names one change that’ll see Man Utd ace match world-class £150m star

Rio Ferdinand, Man Utd duo Kobbie Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho

Rio Ferdinand has urged Ten Hag to make one change

Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand has urged Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag to play Kobbie Mainoo further forward, in a move which could see the player emulate Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham.

Mainoo has burst onto the scene for Man Utd this season, having forced his way into Ten Hag’s starting lineup and made 23 appearances so far. The central midfielder has played so well at club level that he has also become a full England international.

Mainoo is only 18 years old but is extremely confident on the ball and also has the strength to battle with older and more experienced midfielders. Mainoo is a very intelligent player too, as he has a keen eye for a pass and is great at helping Man Utd build out from the back.

The starlet has repaid Ten Hag’s faith by scoring crucial goals in the Premier League against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool, both of which have been pure class.

Against Liverpool, Mainoo turned in the box before sending a curled effort into the far corner on his right foot, giving opposition goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher no chance.

On his Vibe with Five podcast, Old Trafford hero Ferdinand has suggested Ten Hag should start playing the teenager in a more advanced midfield role, which could herald plenty of goal contributions.

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“There are some moments at grounds where everyone is looking at each other saying, ‘Oh my, did you see what happened there?’. His goal [against Liverpool] was one of those moments,” the pundit said.

“It was kind of out of nothing as well. The audacity for him to even take that on. His two best moments this season – in a Man Utd shirt – have been in the same position. That area of the box.

Kobbie Mainoo could play ‘a little higher’ for Man Utd

“So, it’s starting to lead me to think, is he maybe better off being a little higher?”

Ferdinand continued: “The problem is, we’ve got Bruno [Fernandes] who likes to operate in those areas. But once he [Mainoo] gets into those areas, he is as cold as you like, and I want to see him in there more. We’ve got to find a way to help that to happen.

“I didn’t think he played one of his best games for United [vs Liverpool]. But, again, he had an impact.

“At this level, that can be enough. Kobbie, every time he plays at the moment, he does something that makes you think, ‘At this age, this is not normal’.”

Mainoo could follow in the footsteps of compatriot Bellingham by taking up a role as a more advanced midfielder.

Bellingham originally burst onto the scene as a box-to-box midfielder, though he soon started to increase his goal contributions at Borussia Dortmund.

Since joining Madrid last summer, the 20-year-old has shown just how deadly he can be in the final third. He is Madrid’s top scorer this term, with 20 goals to his name from 30 appearances.

Bellingham is now valued at a colossal €180million (£154m), and Mainoo will want to reach those heights in the coming years.

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