Manchester United’s Erik ten Hag is having a Casemiro problem.
Casemiro has been fantastic for Manchester United, but Erik ten Hag must address a problem.
Casemiro has had the most positive impact on his new club this season of any summer addition.
Not even Erling Haaland with his incredible ability to put the ball in the back of the net has had the same impact on a team’s fortunes as Casemiro. Many scoffed when Manchester United paid £60 million for a 30-year-old player, but he has already proven he is worth every penny.
Not only has the Brazilian lynchpin fulfilled all of the expectations placed on him at Old Trafford by providing much-needed defensive resilience and leadership in the middle of the field, but he has also exceeded even the most lofty of expectations for a five-time Champions League winner.
Perhaps because he never had to do as much on the ball at Madrid due to having two generational talents in Luka Modric and Toni Kroos on each side of him, Casemiro’s efforts at the other end of the game have been a joyful surprise.
Whether it’s coming up with crucial goals, gallivanting forward to join in on assaults, or his exceptional usage of the ball with a stunning range of passing, the 31-year-old has transformed the way United build play and attack opponents.
Erik ten Hag has developed a number of players in his brief months as head coach to the point that several are now critical to the team’s success. Losing any of Marcus Rashford, Lisandro Martinez, Bruno Fernandes, or Raphael Varane would be devastating, but Casemiro would be the most devastating.
It’s already been demonstrated. There was widespread fear when he received his tenth card of the season, ruling him out of the critical match against Arsenal, and despite United’s best efforts, they were outplayed and deservedly defeated at the Emirates.
Then Casemiro received a three-game suspension for his bizarre red card against Crystal Palace, and United were far from their best in those games. Ten Hag’s winning mentality helped them capture an incredible seven points, but they all started poorly and had to fight their way back into the games.
With him returning in the lineup, United upset La Liga leaders Barcelona in an exciting Europa League match before easily defeating Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final, with Casemiro scoring the first goal.
He was given a well-deserved rest for Wednesday’s FA Cup tie against West Ham, but United fell short of expectations once again. Even though it was ostensibly a day off, Ten Hag felt compelled to bring Casemiro on at halftime, and United eventually regained control and came from behind to win.
It was yet another rousing victory that reinforces United’s resurgence as a powerhouse. Unstoppable. Yet, this is increasingly only the case when Casemiro is on the field.
He’s become really valuable to the team. Almost too significant. While Scott McTominay has his purposes, the decline in quality is so drastic that United cannot play the same style with him on the field. Fred’s playing has improved, although he is still inconsistent.
It’s creating an issue since Ten Hag is unable to rest Casemiro as much as he would want for fear of a slip-up, which will only increase the chance of injury and exhaustion as he ages. It’s a problem that must be addressed during the summer transfer window.
Whether it’s a return to the Frenkie de Jong chase, an attempt to persuade Jude Bellingham to join, or someone else entirely, United require another world-class midfielder to complement the one they already have.