Kobbie Mainoo has given Erik ten Hag a £55m problem to solve at Manchester United
Making just 12 appearances in the iconic No.7 shirt thus far, it is sometimes easy to forget Manchester United signed Mason Mount in last summer's transfer window.
Moving into the second phase of their rebuilding project under Erik ten Hag, United identified Mount as the ideal candidate to strengthen their midfield pool. After several weeks of negotiations with Chelsea, the Reds announced his arrival in early-July in a deal worth £55million, potentially rising to £60m.
Despite the success of Christian Eriksen's and Casemiro's link-up play in 2022/23, United knew they needed to inject fresh energy into their midfield. Mount is seven years Eriksen's junior, meaning he was widely expected to take his place.
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That theory was proved correct right at the very start of the season, with Mount joining forces with Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro in Ten Hag's trademark three-man midfield. He was tasked with providing energy and control in the deep-lying No.8 position, a role which saw him act as the shuttle between defence and attack.
However, the Portsmouth-born midfielder has spent more time on the treatment table than the Old Trafford pitch so far this season, playing just 12 times. He has not featured since November 11 because of a calf injury.
Though he is edging closer and closer towards making his return, forcing his way back into Ten Hag's first-choice midfield is going to be a difficult task. With Casemiro tasked with defending and Fernandes tasked with providing creativity, Kobbie Mainoo currently leads the race to slot it alongside the pair of them and