Man Utd warned £85m transfer would stall Mainoo’s development despite being an ‘upgrade’

Joe Williams
Man Utd midfielder Kobbie Mainoo
Kobbie Mainoo celebrates with his team-mates.

Former Man Utd defender Mikael Silvestre thinks the Red Devils could stunt Kobbie Mainoo’s development by signing Frenkie de Jong in the summer.

After a poor first half of the season, which saw them exit the League Cup and Champions League, Erik ten Hag’s side seem to be getting it together ahead of the Premier League run-in.

Man Utd have won five of their last six matches in all competitions, moving up to sixth in the Premier League table and progressing to the FA Cup fifth round.

The form of young trio Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Mainoo has helped Ten Hag turn their fortunes around in recent weeks.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to buy 25 per cent of Man Utd is on the verge of going through with the British billionaire set to appoint a new sporting director and overhaul the recruitment department.

Ten Hag’s future had been under scrutiny after a poor run of form in December but it seems likely that the Dutchman will hang onto his job with Ratcliffe looking to provide him the players he needs to take Man Utd back to the top of English football.

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Rumours that Barcelona are now prepared to sell Frenkie de Jong in the summer has seen reports claiming Man Utd could revitalise their interest in the Netherlands international, who is apparently open to a move.

And Silvestre has mixed thoughts about Man Utd potentially signing De Jong from Barcelona – who have put a €100m (£85m) asking price on his head – with the Dutchman likely to block Mainoo’s progress in the first team.

Silvestre told “If a player like Frenkie de Jong is available, he should be considered. But again you look at Kobbie and we talked about Scott, and we have Casemiro here.

“Will de Jong be an upgrade? Of course. Ahead of Kobbie but if you want to continue developing Mainoo and give him the time, I don’t think de Jong should come in.

“If you qualify for the Champions League, then signing de Jong makes sense. You have to consider him for sure. He’s a top player but putting him in a midfield where the manager likes to play with two defensive midfielders, if you play with three, it could be a different proposition.

“So the answer is yes, do consider him.”

On Mainoo’s progress, Silvestre added: “He’s been impressive and hasn’t had a bad game, so for a young player it’s impressive.

“For a young player he’s consistent and he’s vital in midfield as he covers ground and sustains a high energy level. He’s able to press well and his passing ability is getting better and better. You can see his confidence is rising.

“The goal vs Wolves was a big boost but his general play has been very good. His link up play when building from the back has to be both safe and courageous. He’s doing it so I just hope it continues and he grows as a player and an individual into the team.

“He’s another academy graduate which shows the way for the next one in line. It’s just the beginning for him so we shouldn’t put too much pressure on him. Or extra expectations.

“He’s part of a strong squad with a World Cup winner and Champions League winners. There are experienced, established players so he needs to carry on the way he’s been playing and learn from the pros.

“He’s in a very good dynamic at the moment.”