Former Manchester United goalkeeper Tim Howard has insisted that Kobbie Mainoo should emulate Arsenal star Declan Rice. The 19-year-old phenom has burst onto the scene, compiling five goals and an assist in 32 appearances in the campaign. His final goal of the 2023/24 season was the eventual winner in the FA Cup final on Saturday. Mainoo’s goal helped the Red Devils beat rivals Manchester City and lift the trophy for the 13th time in their history.

The youngster entered the current campaign having only one Premier League appearance under his belt. Although manager Erik ten Hag certainly did not expect to rely on Mainoo very much this season, the midfielder became undroppable following stellar displays in November and December.

Mainoo’s rise has made several pundits compare the youngster to former United legend Paul Scholes. Much like Scholes, the current star can operate several useful roles in midfield for the club. He can be deployed more defensively to help focus on breaking up opposing teams. However, the youngster possesses the creative talent to also be a more box-to-box midfielder.

While many have compared Mainoo to Scholes, the legend recently claimed that the youngster is even better than he was at his current age.

“Read a few comparisons between me and this kid last week,” Scholes posted on social media. “Don’t waste your time, he is 10 times the player I was at 19. Just love the way he receives the ball, the calmness, the awareness of what’s around him, and, of course, the big goals in big games.”

Howard hopes United and England allow Mainoo more freedom on the pitch

Howard understands the comparisons between the two Red Devils players, particularly because they both advanced through the United academy. Nevertheless, the former goalkeeper claimed that Mainoo should instead try to imitate Rice’s current game.

In a piece written for Mail Sport, Howard pointed to the Arsenal star’s newfound freedom in Mikel Arteta’s team. Rice was unleashed in his first season in north London to allow the midfielder to get into more advanced places on the pitch. This is something that Howard believes Mainoo can also excel at in the future.

“For me, there is another midfielder that Kobbie should look to for a blueprint on how to develop his game: Declan Rice,” proclaimed Howard. “He’s had a breakout season at Arsenal because he’s now been freed up to explore what it’s like in the other penalty area. Kobbie has the ability to do that, too.”

“Now it is up to his managers: can they allow him to do what he’s great at – breaking things up, using his energy – but then also encourage him to get further forward?”

“I wouldn’t be afraid to give him more license and to expect more from him – in a United shirt and in an England shirt. Could he be an asset for Gareth Southgate at this summer’s Euros? Sure. This could be a good chance for him to get on that stage.”

Scholes did not appreciate the comments by Howard

The comments, however, were not exactly received well by Scholes. The legendary midfielder shut down the assertion by his former teammate with a social media post. “Talking [poop emoji] Timothy… night!” Scholes wrote on his Instagram story.

The harsh remark by Scholes could very well be due to his disdain for the Gunners. The clubs were arguably the top two teams in the Premier League for a significant portion of the midfielder’s career. Scholes previously labeled Arsenal and United as the biggest English rivalry for a lengthy period.

Nevertheless, Rice is certainly not a bad player for any youngster to emulate. Despite costing the Gunners around $125 million last summer, the English star was one of the top performers in the entire Premier League throughout the season. While many high-priced players tend to falter, Rice proved that he was well worth the massive price tag.