Everything you need to know

Manchester United have agreed a deal to sign Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro for €60m, with the possibility of a further €10m in performance-related surcharges, but is he the player who can save the club?

Casemiro, 30, is widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and has won almost everything there is to win at Madrid after joining from Sao Paulo in 2013.

With just over 500 career appearances (and 47 goals), the Brazil international has won the Copa Sudamericana (2012) with Sao Paulo and many other trophies with Madrid including; three La Liga titles (2017, 2020, 2022); a King’s Cup (2014); three Spanish Super Cups (2017, 2020, 2022); five UEFA Champions Leagues (2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2022); three UEFA Super Cups (2016, 2017, 2022); three FIFA Club World Cups (2016, 2017, 2018.)

With Brazil – for whom he has 63 caps – he has won a Copa America (2019), as well as the South American U-17 Championship (2009), the South American U-20 Championship (2011) and the FIFA U-20 World Cup ( 2011) in the youth field.

So what can Man United expect?

position

Casemiro usually sits deep in a 4-3-3 formation as a central pivot in front of the centre-backs. He can step forward to help his attacking players in a box-to-box role, but he’s more focused on defense than offense.

The midfielder is one of the best at covering for his team-mates when they’re out of position and can get into full-back areas to stop attacks. He has been stylistically compared to legendary Real Madrid defensive midfielder Claude Makelele, although Casemiro’s positional sense and determination mark him as one of the best around.

Based on the numbers

Casemiro had some impressive stats among his Real Madrid peers last season, appearing in 32 of the club’s 38 league games (5th =) en route to LaLiga and Champions League doubles.

*Statistics based on Primeira Liga 2021-22 only, vs players with 10+ games

touches: 2,448 (3rd at Real Madrid)
Accuracy: 86% (19th)
Restoration: 230 (1st)
duels won: 57.6% (6th)
Tackles won: 44% (10th)
Opportunities created: 26 (9th)
Expected Goals: 2.62 (8th)
Expected assists: 2.86 (8th)

Strengthen

Casemiro’s departure means Real Madrid lose a third of their legendary midfield Casemiro/Toni Kroos/Luka Modric, three players who complemented each other perfectly and were fundamental in their recent Champions League victories. The Brazilian’s role in this trio was clearly defined as the most defensive of the three, protecting Madrid’s defence, reclaiming the ball and providing a platform for more attack-oriented colleagues to flourish – although he showed a growing desire to come across as well the years ahead.

Only five players, including Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets, had more ball recoveries than Casemiro (230) in LaLiga last season and that plays for a Madrid side that tends to dominate possession. His awareness is exceptional, and he can often be seen pulling into defense to fill gaps or to help a teammate who is out of position. His passing rate is solid – it was 86% in LaLiga last year – but falls well short of the likes of Kroos, who topped the charts in Spain with 94.9%.

Casemiro scores every now and then, especially from distance. His best tally in LaLiga so far was six goals in 2020/21 while you might remember his spectacular strike against Juventus in the 2017 Champions League final. – Alex Kirkland

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Casemiro was 6th in LaLiga for ball recovery last season, while his defensive action chart shows how committed he is to the whole pitch.

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how he can improve

Don’t expect Casemiro to regularly contribute in the opposition penalty area. Last season in LaLiga he created just 26 chances, provided three assists and scored once in 32 appearances.

It will be interesting to see how his no-nonsense style matches the more physical demands of the Premier League. Casemiro has a reputation among opposing fans for avoiding deserved bookings, but he still picked up 11 yellow cards in LaLiga last season – despite surprisingly only being sent off twice in Spain in almost a decade. – Kirklands

Why were Man United interested?

Casemiro fills a gaping void in the Manchester United squad and one that Erik ten Hag was keen to fill from the minute he arrived at Old Trafford.

United have made no secret that Frenkie de Jong was the main target but with that deal becoming increasingly unlikely by the week, they have turned their attention to Casemiro. He may be 30 but still very experienced and one of the best in the world at his position. United couldn’t really say no when the opportunity arose.

There will be questions as to why Real Madrid allowed him to leave but the bottom line is that those reasons are not United’s concern. Your only question should be if he improves the team right away, and the answer is undeniably yes. De Jong’s move to Casemiro doesn’t hint at a huge recruitment plan but the Brazilian makes United better. – Rob Dawson

Does he fit at Old Trafford?

Casemiro goes straight into the United team because he’s better than anyone Ten Hag has in that position. The question, however, is whether he fits into the Dutchman’s style of play.

The Brazilian is an easy-going footballer who wants to win the ball back and hand it off to someone with more technical ability, which is why he was so effective in midfield in a three-at-a-half at Real Madrid alongside Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, two of the game’s best distributors. Casemiro won’t drive the ball forward or set the pace with his pass like De Jong could, but he will make United better defensively. He stops play, reads the game well and sits comfortably in front of the back four – something United were missing even before Ten Hag’s arrival.

United conceded too many goals last season, scoring six goals in two games against Brighton and Brentford. Casemiro’s arrival should at least help rectify that. – Dawson

https://www.espn.com/soccer/soccer-transfers/story/4724976/man-uniteds-new-signing-casemiro-everything-you-need-to-know Everything you need to know

Emma Bowman

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