Do Man Utd have the next Bellingham? Maguire's HUGE Mainoo claim assessed

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 22 Mar 2024 12:19 GMT
  • 8 min read
Jude Bellingham, Kobbie Mainoo, Man Utd

Is Manchester United starlet Kobbie Mainoo really the next Jude Bellingham?

That’s what Harry Maguire has claimed while on England duty, stating that the 18-year-old Man Utd midfielder can match the achievements of his only-marginally-older peer at Real Madrid.

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Bellingham’s talents were well established at Borussia Dortmund, yet it’s doubtful that even he would have expected the impact he has made at the Bernabeu. Through his first 31 games for Los Blancos, he has 20 goals and nine assists. He has made a positive impact virtually every time he has been on the field.

READ MORE: Don't believe the hype! England won't win the Euros

And that is the level Maguire is building Mainoo up to.

“It’s incredible he’s 18, he’s so mature. He’s a bit like Jude was when he was a young boy. He’s got a mature head on his shoulders. I had no concerns,” the centre-back said.

“He’s got everything, he can handle the ball brilliantly. He’s really strong, powerful, and you can see the progression to play that role, especially for Manchester United.”

READ MORE: When does the contract of every Man Utd player expire?

Kobbie Mainoo has been called up to the senior England team for the first time
© IMAGO - Kobbie Mainoo has been called up to the senior England team for the first time

How similar is Mainoo to Bellingham?

Although both Mainoo and Bellingham are both primarily midfielders, their roles are very different, making a like-for-like comparison rather tricky.

Mainoo is playing deep for Man Utd and has shown a little bit of everything when he has been on the field. Data analytics experts SciSports show he has a very balanced playing style.

By contrast, Bellingham has been given a freer role at Real Madrid. He is also showing a balanced playing style but is working more as an advanced playmaker or shadow striker – positions that Mainoo does not take up due to his role.

Jude Bellingham
2023/2024 | LaLiga (Primera División) (ESP)
Attacking midfield (564 Minutes played)
99% Box-to-BoxMidfielderAdvancedPlaymakerShadowStriker
Kobbie Mainoo
2023/2024 | Premier League (ENG)
Defensive midfield (803 Minutes played)
77% Ball WinningMidfielderHoldingMidfielderDeep LyingPlaymakerBox-to-BoxMidfielder

SciSports, meanwhile, are dubious of Mainoo’s ability to hit the heights of Bellingham. At a comparable age, the Man Utd player has a far lower SciSkill score, which is mark given to every player based on hundreds of in-game data points.

It is worth noting, however, that Mainoo’s score has risen rapidly since breaking into the Man Utd team after injury. This points in the direction of stronger long-term improvement than previously forecast.

But looking back at Bellingham as an 18-year-old playing for Dortmund in the Bundesliga, it was clear he was of a higher grade.

At BVB, Bellingham ranked 19th among 79 Bundesliga midfielders in the 2021/22 season. Mainoo scores only 53rd in the Premier League this season, compared to 84 similar players.

Mainoo 23/24 vs Bellingham 21/22

Mainoo vs Bellingham
© SciSports - Mainoo vs Bellingham

Interestingly, Bellingham ranked higher in every defensive facet of the game as well as many of the attacking ones too. Mainoo’s passing is slightly better, with his ball retention ranked third in the Premier League.

Despite the big build up given to him by Maguire, there is a chasm that Mainoo must cross to match Bellingham, who was already a significantly stronger player just a couple of years ago.

His improvement has been rapid, but he’s unlikely to match Jude’s level.

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