Casemiro’s performance against Liverpool shows what Man Utd are getting

Shoot for the moon and if you miss you might land among the stars, so the saying goes, and in Manchester United’s case aiming high has resulted in them taking away a five-time Champions League-winning star from Real Madrid.

Given United have been linked with dozens of players over the transfer window, with the list of names seemingly growing at the same rate as their desperation levels, it is safe to say the reports claiming they were after Casemiro this week were met with derision.

Here is a world-class player, a member of the most fabled midfield three since Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, who has just won La Liga and another Champions League, linked with Europa League-playing, bottom-of-the-Premier -League, full-crisis-mode Manchester United… He wouldn’t, would he?

Well, it turns out the transfer is imminent, with Real Madrid and United reaching an agreement on Friday night after Carlo Ancelotti admitted Casemiro wanted a “new challenge” – and that it certainly will be when he swaps Madrid for Manchester soon, personal terms and medical permitting.

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Reports suggest he will earn more than he does at Real, while the salary will put him among United’s top earners, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, with a four-year deal in the pipeline and the option for a fifth.

That is an offer too good for 30-year-old Casemiro to refuse. He may have had three years remaining on his Real contract, but it was arguably now or never for another deal like this, while he may also have recently realized his importance in the Spanish capital was diminishing.

Casemiro was sublime in the Champions League final against Liverpool (Photo: Getty)

Real signed Eduardo Camavinga last year and Aurelien Tchouameni earlier this summer, with the duo – along with Federico Valverde – part of the club’s midfield regeneration that aims to ease the transition away from the all-conquering but aging Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric.

And in their La Liga opener at Almeria on the weekend, both Camavinga and Tchouameni started ahead of Casemiro and Modric in the 2-1 win – a sign that perhaps this evolution is already under way, while for Real the €70m (£59.2m ) being offered helps balance the books after spending an initial €80m (£68m) on Tchouameni.

That could explain why Casemiro wanted a change of scenery, but despite the commotion over the lengthy contract there is no reason to suggest United are getting a player that will soon pass the peak of his powers.

United fans need only watch his highlights against Liverpool in May’s Champions League final to see what they are getting: a midfielder who will sit deep and intercept all day long, as Sadio Mane in particular found out three months ago, while his passing range is not to be sniffed at and superior to that of Fred and Scott McTominay’s.

More recently there was Fernandinho, playing regular football for Manchester City during his mid-30s and winning four Premier League titles between 2018 and 2022, while the need to replace him was only first addressed in 2019 when Rodri arrived on the scene – at a time when Fernandinho was 34.

Of course, no two players are the same, but by those markers United’s initial four-year deal does not seem so ridiculous after all, and the question marks around his age are arguably even more redundant in this era where 30-year-old footballers are light years away from the 30-year-old footballers of old thanks to the advancement of sports science.

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That is not to say Casemiro is the silver bullet solution – for he is not the ball-carrying midfielder United were after in their “inept” courting of Frenkie de Jong – nor that he will be the same player in five years’ time, but this move may not be as short-term as it seems, and providing he is not the final name to join the club this summer then the pressure of returning to the Champions League will not lie solely at his feet.

Let’s see what the next fortnight brings, but with Casemiro joining, it could give them a boost in negotiations elsewhere, and may also ease the burden on their current centre-backs, who will know that signing a defensive midfielder who has mastered the art of screening the back four is nothing but a positive.

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