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26th Feb 2023

Casemiro may not have been what Man United wanted, but he was what they needed

Callum Boyle


Time and time again, Casemiro delivers, as he showed in the Carabao Cup final.

As Erik ten Hag assessed the challenge awaiting him at Manchester United, there was one position on his shopping list: a defensively-minded midfielder.

For years Man United had lacked anyone with that real wow factor in the middle of the park. They tried and tried with names like Paul Pogba, Fred and more, but none could fit the bill.

Ten Hag had his eyes on Frenkie de Jong, a player who the Dutchman had worked with at Ajax and one he thought he could get given Barcelona’s financial difficulties.

However hard they tried though, De Jong and Barça wouldn’t budge. Then, out of the blue, along came Casemiro.

The Brazilian had been at the epicentre of all of Real Madrid’s dominance in recent years. From having that technical flair to the brute force that only a bulldozer could produce, brushing people away and stamping his authority on the game.

His arrival did spark question marks. To drop £60m plus on a player that seemingly hadn’t been on their radar and on the wrong side of 30, people felt it was a poor investment choice.

Graeme Souness even said: “Casemiro’s played with great players but he’s never been a great player. I don’t see him making United any better when they have the ball.”

I bet if someone told you that now, they’d tell you that you were deluded. Casemiro’s impact on the club is evident for all to see.

Less than a year into the rebuild and United have a Carabao Cup to their name and could also go on to lift the FA Cup, Europa League and Premier League (the latter may be a step too far, to be fair).

It’s very rare to see someone display so much calmness, yet so much passion all at the same time.

The cliché phrase of saying that someone would ‘run through brick walls for something’ is often overused, but Casemiro actually would. Never mind that, he’d smash it to pieces.

Even after half an hour or so at Wembley, the 30-year-old was there, punching the air at every tackle, celebrating every block and it radiated throughout the rest of the squad and those in the stands.

It was quite fitting that he was the one to open the scoring for the Red Devils. Just like always, he was in the right place at the right time to fire the ball past Loris Karius.

He may not have been what they initially wanted but Casemiro was that piece of the jigsaw they needed all along.

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