Is Casemiro Really The Solution To Ten Hag’s Problems?

Written by Patrick Echatah

Brazilian international Casemiro, 30, has moved to Old Trafford. He has won the UEFA Champions League five times. But does the move go according to plan?

Manchester United scored 122 goals during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s greatest season in charge, but losses in a number of cup finals and a league title that was lost due to goals conceded highlighted a key component that was missing from the team.

There is no question that defensive midfielders significantly contribute to winning championships, even though their names may not be the first ones on a manager’s squad sheet. Because of their special talents, N’Golo Kante at Chelsea, Rodri at Manchester City, and Casemiro, formerly at Real Madrid, have made their clubs bastions. And Casemiro, a 30-year-old international from Brazil and five-time winner of the UEFA Champions League, has now switched to Old Trafford. But does the move go according to plan?

What is required of the Manchester United’s midfield?

Manchester United’s midfield pursuit this summer under current manager Erik Ten Hag has been playmaker Frenkie de Jong of Barcelona. According to that unsuccessful pursuit, Ten Hag genuinely desired a player with dual abilities. He first needed a guy who could face the opposing squad while playing. Second, he needed a player who could move the ball out of the midfield.

Footballers who can play the ball well are a squad’s desired currency, and center defenders and midfielders in particular are constantly in high demand. It is for this reason that Manchester United captain Harry Maguire, who is frequently pursued on social media by hordes of fans, remains an essential part of both Manchester United and the England national team, who recently advanced to the Euro 2020 final.

Additionally, it explains why Real Madrid rushed to offload Casemiro for an estimated 60 million pounds. When Real Madrid pursues Jude Bellingham from Borussia Dortmund next summer, that money will serve them well. While Casemiro has the potential to become a cog in Manchester United’s midfield, it’s difficult to see how he can address the real issue plaguing this squad.

Is Casemiro the answer to Ten Hag and Manchester United’s problems?

On the surface, incredibly implausible. The similarities between Casemiro and Manchester United’s need for a defensive midfielder end there.

Progressive carries is the most crucial figure for a defensive midfielder on an Erik Ten Hag squad. This metric shows how frequently a player carries the ball and effectively moves it up the field. The ideal defensive midfielder, according to Ten Hag, receives the ball from the goalkeeper or the center back and moves it forward after receiving it. According to FBRef, Casemiro averaged slightly more over three progressive carries per 90 minutes for Real Madrid throughout his previous three seasons. In a team that typically keeps the ball for 60% of the game, he ranks in the 35th percentile for carries. For progressive carries, De Jong, on the other hand, was in the 94th percentile.

When it comes to protecting or distributing the ball to the ball carrier, Casemiro excels as a midfielder. There isn’t a somebody like that at Manchester United’s center of their midfield to guard or pass the ball to (Scott McTominay ranks in the 77th percentile for progressive carries, Fred ranks in the 33rd percentile and Bruno Fernandes ranks in the 47th percentile). It appears extravagant on Manchester’s part to pay £70 million for Casemiro, as reported by English media.

What benefits does Casemiro offer?

When it comes to successfully completing tackles, blocks, clearances, and aerial duels, Casemiro routinely scores in the top 90%. Madrid’s possession increased from an average of 60% in the 2020–21 season to 68%, making this number notable. Normally, this would imply a decrease in the percentage of defensive players and their best performances, such as tackles, blocks, and clearances. However, in Casemiro’s case, these statistics increased.

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When playing in the base of the midfield, Casemiro can pass the ball to a midfielder who can advance the ball with ease in between two center defenders. He has the potential to stop other teams from advancing the ball into United’s final third.

Is this a panic buy from Manchester United’s hierarchy?

Probably, yes. Defensive midfielders like Casemiro are plentiful on the transfer market. Therefore, it is strange that United has spent the amount of money that they have on a player that might aid the defense in a small way but doesn’t have an impact on the offensive end or possession holding.

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