Ten Hag reveals star who almost left Man Utd in January is the secret behind Kobbie Mainoo’s rise

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CASEMIRO is the main man firing Kobbie Mainoo towards superstardom.

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag revealed that five-time Champions League winner Casemiro has taken the teen under his wing as they form a new midfield double act.

Erik ten Hag has revealed that Casemiro has taken Kobbie Mainoo under his wingGetty

GettyCasemiro almost left United in January[/caption]

Brazilian anchor Casemiro might have gone last month had interested parties dangled the right amount of cash in front of the Red Devils.

He was linked with the Saudi Pro League and Paris Saint-Germain — and few fans would have cared had he gone.

After a fine first campaign following his £60million arrival from Real Madrid he looked out of gas before a hamstring injury at the start of November.

The 31-year-old was injured in the 3–0 Carabao Cup home loss to Newcastle United, the SEVENTH time in 12 games he had been on the losing side as boss Ten Hag’s own second season disintegrated.

Three months and three wins later, Casemiro has rediscovered the form that according to Ten Hag made him “the cement between the stones” of his side.

He has also become a mentor to Mainoo, 18, playing alongside him in all of those victories against Newport, Wolves and West Ham.

Former Ajax gaffer Ten Hag said: “You see the impact of a player like Casemiro.

“He gives you calmness and composure, he gives options, he sees the critical pass, so he is always a step ahead of his opponent to break lines.

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Mainoo has been in impressive form for Man Utd this season

“So he is very important and we’re happy he’s back. Kobbie Mainoo can learn a lot from it and that togetherness, absolutely there is that bond.

“Kobbie is very coachable, Casemiro has so much experience and Kobbie will learn a lot from him and that can accelerate his development.

“When they play together I think they can take benefit from each other. Casemiro takes that responsibility, he takes it to him, he is talking to him.

“I see it in the dressing room, I see it on the pitch in games, I see it in training.

“Of course he’s looking at his own game but he’s trying to help and support Kobbie.”

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Mainoo, who will make his 14th appearance of the season away at Aston Villa today, emerged in Casemiro’s absence.

He has an old head beside him now but is already playing with a composure beyond his years as one of the young guns who have United firing again.

Along with winger Alejandro Garnacho, 19, and Rasmus Hoijlund — who celebrated his 21st birthday a week ago with his fifth goal in six games in the 3-0 win over West Ham — they are the three amigos of Ten Hag’s recovering side.

United have brought back echoes to Old Trafford of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Class of ’92 side that included the likes of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville.

What most impresses Ten Hag is how Mainoo and Co have come through a baptism of fire within a side that looked to be falling apart.

GettyMainoo has enjoyed his Premier League breakthrough this season[/caption]

A raft of injuries forced the Dutchman’s hand and he said: “It’s easier to integrate young talent into a successful team.

“The conditions where we had to bring in Kobbie Mainoo were not so good that we knew it would be a success.

“I had the confidence because I saw him performing and progressing in spring and summer.

“When I brought him in for the game against Arsenal, I didn’t have any doubts.

“But when he comes into the team there are many things he has to do on his own because when there are a lot of routines in the team it is much easier for him to come in.

“But we were not in that situation and I don’t think this club has been in that situation for a long time.

“So we are building a team that can offer a foundation for young players to come in.

“We have to have a foundation so that we can add quality players to the squad to take the team to the next level.”

Garnacho, like Hojlund and Mainoo, is fast becoming a major influence.

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He has been furthering his education on the right wing as opposed to his normal role on the other side.

Ten Hag said of the budding Argentina ace: “Alejandro is so natural, he prefers to play on the left but now he finds his position on the right as well — he is quite fluent.

“He finds his spaces there but he can do both, which is great. Not every player has those abilities.

“Alejandro can be fluid and play both positions and even in inside positions, he feels very comfortable. He can have a big impact on our game and the end product.”

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