Mainoo's Best Partner: A Case For Amadou Onana

Should Casemiro depart Old Trafford in the summer, Steven looks at the ideal candidate to replace the Brazilian alongside wonderkid Kobbie Mainoo…

Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League
Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League / Alex Livesey/GettyImages

Everyone at United understands how good Mainoo has been and could end up becoming. This is an eighteen-year-old who has played in the first team for the last couple of months and has arguably been the team's best midfielder.

But he is not going to fix United's midfield by himself.

While Mainoo provides impeccable pausa and composure on the ball, especially in the first phase, he lacks some dynamism, particularly from a ground coverage standpoint. His partner needs to be someone who can secure the middle of the pitch and be able to circulate and progress the ball effectively.

Enter: Everton's Amadou Onana.

Who really is Amadou Onana?

Onana is a 24-year-old Belgian midfielder. After starting his career in the Hoffenheim and Hamburger academies, he moved to Ligue 1 side Lille in 2021. The following year, he moved to Merseyside for a $35 million fee. Since then, he has developed year by year into becoming one of the best defensive midfielders in the league.

Amadou Onana
Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

Onana offers two crucial things to United: the unparalleled athletic ability to aid in defensive security and more than capable on-ball prowess. Firstly, Onana stands at 6'4 and acts as essentially a third center-back on goal kicks and set pieces, leading to an absurd 74% of his aerial duels won. His long legs and powerful stride remind one of Wan-Bissaka but a midfield version of the fullback. Essentially, Onana can act as the side's defensive leader, which allows Mainoo to take care of the build-up phase and dictate the tempo. However, he is not simply a "destroyer."

Onana has nimble feet, allowing him to glide past pressure. While not particularly progressive in Sean Dyche's system, he keeps his touches and passes efficiently and looks for the occasional long ball. His IQ and timing suggest a player who could shine and become a more progressive force in a more expansive team.

A Mainoo-Onana pairing has everything one could hope for. A mix of their games would allow United to control games in a variety of ways. in both counter-attacking and possession-based systmes. It's a pair that should work with any manager that INEOS could appoint.

He may be very expensive, but Onana is as perfect as it gets to maximise Mainoo. He should be a priority for the summer.