MainooMania: SCOUT NOTES, February 6th
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Silly season wasn’t so silly this winter, was it? Premier League transfer spending was down by over €700 million, according to Transfermarkt, which is a frankly absurd difference. Put that on a nice little graph (someone else can do it, we’re not that technologically talented) and it’ll look like a cliff.
That’s partly because Chelsea have spaffed everything up the wall for a team that will plod its way to a hilariously terrible mid-table finish, but it’s mostly because of the very real threat of strict spending rules that hang over most clubs. Are we finally seeing the rules actually do some ruling? Probably.
Anyway, City Football Group have just signed a player from City Football Group who is currently on loan at City Football Group. Sávio is set to join Manchester City next summer, leaving Troyes as their club-record purchase and their club-record sale despite never playing for them, all while the team were relegated from Ligue 1 and are struggling in Ligue 2. Football, eh.
Meanwhile, MainooMania is sweeping through the other, redder half of Manchester. That wonderful winner against Wolves was a great moment in what promises to be a great breakout season for the 18-year-old.
Anyone that watched Mainoo at youth level would’ve seen this coming. He was a very impressive prospect at underage level that stood out for his maturity and composure, and both have been the key traits of his fledgling senior career so far.
His skillset and profile were precisely what Manchester United lacked in their first-team midfield. Someone to take the ball from all angles, to slip through pressure, to connect play with tempo and accuracy and security, to cover ground in transition. It’s the type of profile that every elite-level team wants (read: needs) in their midfields — and Manchester United have got one out of their academy. That saves them £50 million, easy, and even more on wages.
But this is why you trust in your own. ‘They have to earn it’ – the age-old, go-to excuse used by managers and coaches with regard to academy players, even by Erik ten Hag in respect of Mainoo earlier in the season if we remember correctly – is a load of shite. Give them the chances to earn it. You won’t know what they can do until you give them the trust they deserve.
Hold it there! We’re just a handful of you away from hitting 500 paid subscribers, which is a big objective for us. Subscribe right now to push us over that line. We’d love you very much.
Kévin Denkey goes boom
Belgium often has a striker that explodes onto the scene. Jonathan David did it previously, Gift Orban as well only last year, there’ll be plenty more to reel off, and now Kévin Denkey is doing it.
He’s scored 18 goals already in the Pro League, doubling his goal tally from last season in 300 fewer minutes, and is putting up some hefty underlying numbers in the process. He’s right up there with the big boys when it comes to shots, non-penalty xG, touches in the box, take-ons, progressive passes received, and so on – all while playing for Cercle Brugge, the mid-table satellite of AS Monaco.
Only the likes of Union Saint-Gilloise speedster Mohamed Amoura, Club Brugge brute Thiago and Anderlecht forward Anders Dryer are keeping pace with him. Just look at the FBRef data.
As well as being fast over ground and direct into space, Denkey has showcased an exciting array of finishes: they range from the swivelly volleys and instinctive snapshots, to a couple of fast-break tap-ins and clever backheel flicks off crosses, all of which has been taken on his left and right feet too.
There’s a lot to like about the way Denkey moves and finishes. Keep an eye out for him.
Get around the Luton Town
Luton Town aren’t getting the credit they deserve, we don’t think. This is a club that is swinging punches against the roided-up Premier League. This is a team that was widely predicted to ‘do a Derby’, to get nine points or fewer and be pulverised back from where they came. This is a club that was in the fifth-tier of English football a decade ago!
They’ve just steamrolled De Zerbi’s Brighton and almost out-Newcastle’d Newcastle at St. James’ Park. What this group of players is doing, in the stewardship of The Very Handsome Rob Edwards, feels like it’s being lost in all the hubbub of the season. It shouldn’t be underappreciated. In fact, it should be celebrated, and celebrated, and celebrated.
We’re delighted to say that our good mate Jay Socik – a proper SCOUTED head, one of our original champions – has played his part in it as their current Head of Recruitment Analysis since 2021. G’wan Jay, and g’wan Luton!
Stop dropping goal kicks on João Neves!
Seriously, don’t do it — he’s the not the weak link you think he is. Despite his smaller stature, the Benfica academy graduate has a mighty leap. His spring off the ground is remarkable, and he times and attacks his headers brilliantly.
So much so, he’s won 60% of all aerial duels in the Primeria Liga so far this season. That’s a better ratio than some big, burly centre-backs can boast.
You shouldn’t underestimate Neves, nor should you underestimate the value of a midfielder who can win a header. Having an extra body that can boom goal kicks back from where they came and help out on set-pieces (in both boxes) is a significant asset.
Also, height ≠ heading ability. It helps be tall, sure, but there’s so much more to winning a header than just being a big, lanky spindle of matter, remember that. João Neves proves it in every game he competes in.
We bloody love him, though. What a player, what a warrior. As we foretold in a previous SCOUT NOTES, he’s the next big thing to come out of Benfica.
Football Manager Corner
Valentín Barco, Vasilije Adžić, Luka Topalović, Ibrahim Osman, Óscar Perea, and Sverre Halseth Nypan — those are the alumnus of Football Manager Corner so far. We’re adding Satoshi Tanaka to that SCOUTED-approved list.
The J.LEAGUEs are brand-new to FM24. That might explain why a lot of the young prospects are disappointingly underrated in the first iteration of the game, but Satoshi Tanaka is one of the few that break that mould. He has a profile that could handle top-level European football straight away.
Indeed, he’s already had a crack at it in real life on loan in Belgium, but don’t let that deter your from picking him up on your saves if you want a versatile, hard-working, left-footed midfielder that can do a bit of everything.
SCOUTED’s Reading List
Barcelona may be on the brink, and they’re all out of palancas to pull. Luckily for them they’ve got a great generation of La Masia talent to fall back on, but Dermot Corrigan’s detailed breakdown of the club’s financial situation – and how it impacts their search for a new coach – doesn’t make for pretty reading.
Kees van Hemmen and Aaron Moniz, revered friends of SCOUTED, have dedicated an entire episode of their Devil in the Detail podcast to Mainoo, Højlund and Garnacho. Whether you’re a United fan or not, you should listen to it.
And finally, the latest profile in our extensive SCOUTED50 series dropped last week — it drills down on the most exciting talent to come out of Australian football in a long time, perhaps ever: Nestory Irankunda.
Seriously, we’re like three away from hitting 500 paid subscribers. It’s a big milestone on our journey to making a living off of this. G’wan.