Man Utd star’s ‘aura’ praised by Lineker as Bellingham comparison drawn with ‘the sky the limit’

Jason Soutar
Kobbie Mainoo has been compared to Jude Bellingham by Gary Lineker
Kobbie Mainoo has been compared to Jude Bellingham by Gary Lineker

Gary Lineker says Manchester United teenager Kobbie Mainoo reminds him of England team-mate Jude Bellingham, as he has “an aura about him”.

Mainoo and Alejandro Garnacho scored as United beat rivals Manchester City 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

It has been an outstanding campaign for the former, who quickly established himself as an important player after breaking into the first team last November.

His fine form earned him a maiden England call-up for the March friendlies against Brazil and Belgium and lots of people believe he should start at this summer’s European Championships in Germany.

Gareth Southgate has plenty of big decisions to make and who plays where in midfield is undoubtedly the biggest of the lot.

Fitting in Phil Foden, Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham is a must, but it could potentially leave Declan Rice exposed in midfield. This is where Mainoo could come in.

If Mainoo and Rice start in midfield together, there is a chance that Foden will be put on the left wing, which is not his best position.

Thriving through the middle for Manchester City this season, Foden won Premier League player of the year.

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And listed as a forward in the England squad, Bellingham will be wasted as part of a midfield pivot with Rice, or even as a No. 8.

Bellingham’s season at Real Madrid has been outstanding and the maturity he has displayed is now being replicated by Mainoo, according to former England striker Lineker.

“The sky is the limit, I think,” Lineker said of Mainoo. “I’m impressed with his remarkable maturity, his confidence. I think he knows how good he is.

“He reminds me in that sense of Bellingham. I know that’s a big shout, but he’s two years younger.

“I think he’s remarkably talented, I think he will feature in the Euros – I don’t know where and when.

“Gareth [Southgate] was in the stands (at the FA Cup final) and everyone in the ground could see how good he was, how confident he was.

“You can see he’s got almost an aura about him, the right sort of confidence.”

Man Utd issue letter to fans after FA Cup victory

After Manchester United’s FA Cup win, the club vowed in a letter to the fans to “fight” for more success.

“We all know that this club is special. Yesterday’s game was yet another reminder of that,” the letter said.

“As we fought to win the FA Cup, the incredible atmosphere you generated inside Wembley helped push us over the line.

“Celebrating all together was beautiful. Fans, staff, players — all united as one. Those memories will live with us forever.

“It was a further reminder that with your support behind us, and the United badge on our chests, we can achieve great things.

“You can be sure that we feel immense pride in representing our football club. This shared passion will drive us forward together, back to where this club belongs.

“We know how much this club means to so many people — in Manchester and around the world. The backing you have given to us, even during times when we fell short of the standards that we set for ourselves, has been unbelievable.

“We understand the sacrifices that you have to make to show this level of support. It does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

“We know this season overall has not been good enough and we make no excuses. But we ended it in the best way possible, celebrating a trophy all together.

“We want more days like yesterday. We are excited for the future here. There is so much that we have to achieve together. We will fight to bring Manchester United the success that this special club deserves.

“Thank you for your unrivalled support. The 2023/24 Manchester United squad.”

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