Sources indicated John Murtough and Richard Arnold were ‘inter-railing around Europe’ in the summer but the club were spending more money on travel expenses than on midfielders until the late addition of Casemiro from Real Madrid.
Casemiro remains the world’s best defensive midfielder but it was supposed to be Frenkie de Jong being paraded at Old Trafford, not the Brazilian. De Jong was Erik ten Hag’s priority signing and yet ‘settling’ for Casemiro has been quite the consolation.
The 30-year-old has been world-class since he swapped Madrid for Manchester and it’s no surprise to see him performing as Brazil’s best player at the World Cup, despite his nation being stacked with an embarrassment of riches in attack.
Casemiro has been an outstanding addition and De Jong staying at Barcelona might have been a blessing in disguise. Ten Hag has played a midfield three of Bruno Fernandes, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro and he’s installed some overdue balance in the side.
De Jong is a completely different player when compared to Casemiro, but the latter was exactly what United needed, someone who was a specialist in defensive midfield and could protect the backline. There were doubts about whether United would have the required physicality with De Jong, Eriksen and Fernandes in midfield and it always seemed like a dubious three.
Casemiro has played in the position that De Jong would have started in, albeit approaching it entirely differently, but Ten Hag has still managed to get the technician he wanted in the centre of the pitch by moulding Eriksen into that role.