Kobbie Mainoo’s Man United stance as laughable Barcelona transfer story is just the start

There would have been a few chuckles around Old Trafford at stories in the Catalan press suggesting Barcelona are eyeing up Kobbie Mainoo. This is the Barcelona who can't register all the players they currently have to play in La Liga next season, never mind sign any more.

The financial demise of Barca is a story all of European football is following. Everyone knows that they don't have the spending power of old. Everyone, that is, apart from most of Catalonia.

So the idea, floated in Catalan-based publication El Nacional, that Hansi Flick wants the club to sign Mainoo is about as likely as United winning the Champions League next season. They don't have enough cash to sign his left foot, never mind the rest of the 19-year-old, who is absolutely not for sale anyway.

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He is one of the few untouchables this summer, chiefly alongside fellow young guns Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund. They could be the future of United and Mainoo certainly is. His first season in the first team was evidence of that.

It's why he is now being linked to clubs like Barcelona and more will follow. Mainoo is that rare breed - although increasingly less rare these days it must be said - of an English midfielder who has the ability to grace the Nou Camp and just about any other stadium in the world.

After 35 senior appearances, he is already one of the best players in the United team and a key man in the midfield. He is wonderfully press-resistant, an intelligent player with an eye for a goal and an ability to find excellent finishes. He might not begin Euro 2024 in England's starting XI, but don't be surprised if he makes an impact in the tournament.

He will certainly feature in Germany and if he does shine for his country in the manner he has done so for his club this season then we can expect more stories in the foreign press linking him with moves away. Maybe it will be Real Madrid next, or Bayern Munich. It's only Europe's very elite who would be realistic suitors.

United certainly need to rejoin that category as quickly as they can. In Mainoo and Garnacho they have a pair of 19-year-olds who are among the most talented players of their generation and they need the platform at Old Trafford to achieve the success their games deserve.

But at the moment they also have the ideal platform to keep developing. They are almost undroppable given the form they showed last season. Garnacho earned himself a five-year contract 14 months ago after his performances and at some point Mainoo will follow suit.

The Stockport-born academy graduate is still on the contract he signed in February 2023, well before his significant senior breakout. That deal has improved since then as a result of performance factors and there is no rush to get a deal signed.

United have been relaxed about the situation for months given he still has three years left, plus the option of another year, on his current contract. Having waited for the season to finish first, Mainoo's remarkable rise now means he is spending the summer at a major tournament.

It is just a matter of time, however. United won't sell Mainoo and he doesn't want to leave his boyhood club. At some point in the not-so-distant future he will pose for the obligatory photo with pen in hand, smile fixed on the camera, ink about to be applied to contract.

Until then, United can probably expect another fanciful story or two linking the shining star of their academy with another club. But right now there's only one club for Kobbie Mainoo.