Rio Ferdinand has praised Manchester United youngster Kobbie Mainoo but he is concerned that Gareth Southgate may overlook him for the England team at the European Championship.
The 18-year-old put on another fantastic performance against West Ham on Sunday, demonstrating his skill and poise on the ball after his incredible, stoppage-time winner against Wolves in midweek.
Despite Mainoo’s lack of Under-21 experience, there are already demands for him to be included in the Three Lions squad in March, especially with Ghana reportedly interested and England regulars Jordan Henderson and Kalvin Phillips both struggling.
Ferdinand, who has compared the young United midfielder to Dutch great Clarence Seedorf, is a huge fan of the player but does not think Southgate will bring him up to the senior squad anytime soon. This is especially after Southgate watched Henderson play for Ajax against PSV on Saturday.
Speaking on his Vibe with FIVE YouTube show, Ferdinand said:
‘I’ve seen some people saying, “Oh, Mainoo is better than Makelele”. Please don’t get it twisted.
‘This kid is on the start of his journey, he’s not Makelele. He’s nowhere on the stratosphere of being anything like him yet. We can’t compare him to any of these guys.
‘You can talk about who he looks similar to. I think he plays similar to someone like Seedorf, that’s who I look at in his game. I’m not saying he’s as good as any of them, or he’s going to be as good as them, but [I see similarities].
‘If Mainoo gets anywhere near someone like Seedorf he will be thanking the Lord saying, “Thank you very much for this career”. Seedorf is one of the most undervalued and underappreciated footballers on the planet.
‘But you’re OK to say he gives vibes like Seedorf. Look at the goal he scored [against Wolves], that was twinkletoes, light-on-your-feet Seedorf. Balance, bit of strength, he looked like him the way he moved and the way he gets out of tight situations off both feet.
‘You can say he looks like him a little bit. But he ain’t him, he ain’t at that level yet. He’s got a long way to go but he’s giving those vibes.’Ferdinand, when talking about Mainoo’s chances to make it to the England squad, said:
‘No. Southgate ain’t bringing my man. Southgate was in Ajax, he was watching Henderson. He was at Ajax.
‘I’ve got some mad stats. You’ve asked if Mainoo will have a chance of going to the Euros this year and obviously the England manager was in Holland watching Ajax watching Jordan Henderson play.
‘But if you look at it, the other games that went on this weekend when the England manager was in Holland: there were 18 English players featuring in the Newcastle-Luton game. There were 12 in the Everton-Spurs game. There were 10 in the Brighton-Palace game and five in the Burnley-Fulham game. And then 12 in the Sheffield United-Aston Villa game. And there was one in Holland.
‘When you put it like that it’s mad isn’t it, it’s crazy. Does the manager really need to look at Henderson? “Are you fit or not? Yeah? You’re coming.” That’s it. That’s all it’s got to be, that’s what it’s about. I’d take him.’