Rasmus Hojlund believes Manchester United have a “generational talent” on their hands in teenage midfielder Kobbie Mainoo.
Erik ten Hag has endured an often ugly second campaign in the hotseat and has had to deal with injuries aplenty while failing to get those that were available firing.
The impending arrival of the ambitious Sir Jim Ratcliffe as minority owner has provided a shot in the arm midway through a difficult campaign in which the progress of United’s young players has been the highlight.
Alejandro Garnacho, 19, has established himself as a key first-team player and Mainoo, 18, followed a run of eye-catching displays – including his first United goal in Sunday’s FA Cup win at Newport – with a jaw-dropping winner at Wolves.
The midfielder’s bold run and curling stoppage-time finish stunned Molineux and secured his boyhood side a much-needed 4-3 victory after they had squandered 2-0 and 3-1 leads.
“I think it’s hard to sum it up,” summer signing Hojlund said after the chaotic clash. “A little bit annoyed because we switch off a little bit but so happy for us in the end. A generational talent in Kobbie Mainoo. He did well.”
It is high praise for a player that Hojlund hopes to join as a bedrock of the United team for years to come.
“We enjoyed things, spending time outside together,” the 20-year-old said of Mainoo. “I think I’ve said before that us young guys, we have a little group and we’re chatting to each other.
“It’s very cool to have other young players around the team and hopefully we can set an era for the club and be here many years together.”
Mainoo, like Garnacho, was part of the United side that won the FA Youth Cup in 2022 and caught Ten Hag’s eye shortly after his appointment that summer.
The Stockport-born midfielder joined the club at aged nine and has made 12 appearances this season – a figure would have been higher were it not for a pre-season injury sustained against Real Madrid in Houston.
“You can see his composure,” Hojlund said. “He is so relaxed on the ball, so much quality on the ball.
“It’s not about taking the responsibility, he’s so relaxed, so calm. He knows his quality and he knows when he goes out there he’s going to perform.
“Everybody knows that from the team and you guys can see it as well now, he’s a top player.”
United’s belief in the raw 20-year-old striker Hojlund saw them pay Atalanta an initial £64million rising to a potential £72million to sign him in the summer.
Injury impacted Hojlund after his move and it took him until Boxing Day to score his first Premier League, having plundered five in the Champions League.
“We’re starting to understand each other better into the team and I think I’m getting used to the Premier League and the tempo and how we play as a team,” the Denmark international said.
“Of course (it is going to take time), but if you ask me I would have loved to score my first goal in September or October.”
Asked if he felt like his like his first Premier League goal would open the floodgates, Hojlund said: “Yes and no.
“I knew I could score goals and I’d shown it in the Champions League and at my previous clubs but of course opening the account it’s always like ‘OK, I can do it’.”