England news: Kobbie Mainoo MUST start next to Declan Rice at Euro 2024

Cameron Smith
Kobbie Mainoo, Conor Gallagher, Jordan Henderson, England, 2023/24

On Tuesday evening, Kobbie Mainoo proved why he deserves to start for England at this summer’s European Championship.

It may be extremely premature – he is still only 18 years old after all – but Mainoo is simply the best option to play next to Declan Rice and behind Jude Bellingham.

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Sure, he lacks the experience that a player like Jordan Henderson may bring or the engine of Conor Gallagher, however Mainoo makes up for this with his press resistance and his creative passing.

Given England have typically struggled to break down deep blocks under Gareth Southgate, this skillset is extremely valuable.

READ MORE: Social media reacts to Kobbie Mainoo’s full England debut

Why Kobbie Mainoo should start for England at Euro 2024

Mainoo’s immense ability was on full display against Belgium on Wednesday, with the Manchester United teenager handed his first international start just days after making his debut versus Brazil.

Following a Jordan Pickford error which led to Youri Tielemans’ opener, Mainoo took it upon himself to create England’s equaliser.

READ MORE: Do Man Utd have the next Bellingham? Maguire’s HUGE Mainoo claim assessed

After receiving the ball under pressure from Tielemans, Mainoo dribbled towards his own back four and managed to evade the Aston Villa man with a couple of nice shoulder movements.

The obvious next move was to play a simple pass back to Lewis Dunk, but Mainoo instead assessed his options and proceeded to jink inside with a lovely feint, bypassing two Belgian opponents and finding Jude Bellingham with an inch-perfect progressive pass.

The Real Madrid man then played Ivan Toney through on goal, who was fouled by Jan Vertonghen inside the penalty area. The Brentford forward slotted home the resulting spot kick with ease to make it 1-1.

Minutes later, Mainoo combined beautifully with Toney down England’s left flank, turning a defensive situation into an attacking one with a flick to the Brentford forward and then a lung-busting run down the line.

In the 33rd minute, Mainoo’s pressing led to a huge chance for Bellingham as the Man Utd youngster tackled Amadou Onana just outside the penalty area before Bellingham somehow missed the target from close range.

10 minutes later, he squeezed past Tielemans and Onana with a lovely nutmeg on the latter before being fouled, which led to a dangerous free-kick from which England were unable to capitalise on.

Mainoo made England tick during the first-half at Wembley and proved that his recent form is not just limited to club appearances.

In the second-half, his performance didn’t dip one bit and he continued to dominate the midfield battle at Wembley. He was substituted to a standing ovation in the 74th minute, having proven he is ready for a regular England spot.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gallagher and Henderson are Mainoo’s most likely rivals for a place in England’s starting XI at the Euros, but the teenager is now the best candidate to partner Rice at the base of midfield.

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