£65k-p/w ‘machine’ can help get Casemiro firing again
Among the litany of issues facing Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag at present is the worrying form of former Real Madrid hero, Casemiro, with the Brazilian destroyer seemingly looking a shell of the player that thrived during his debut campaign last time out.
Having had a “devastating” impact last term following his £70m arrival from the Bernabeu, as per club legend Gary Neville, the 31-year-old has failed to reach those heights this time around, having been unceremoniously hooked midway through the second half in the defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion – encapsulating his, and United’s, grim start to the new Premier League season.
How has Casemiro performed this season?
The experienced maestro was central to everything that was good about the Red Devils last term, with Neville suggesting that the “jump in quality” was “enormous” when the midfielder was in the side in 2022/23.
The treble winner did, however, sound a note of caution at the time after suggesting that the £350k-per-week asset was not a “smart or shrewd signing” due to the expensive outlay on a player of his age, with those concerns already bearing true amid Casemiro’s woes of late.
Such a decline has been evident from the off as the one-time Porto ace was simply “torn to shreds” in the narrow, opening game win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, with the midfield on the day having been simply “non-existent” despite Ten Hag’s men claiming a 1-0 win – as per Neville.
That shaky showing set the tone for what was to follow, with the 6 foot 1 powerhouse having won just 44% of his total duels thus far, while also being dribbled past 2.6 times on average per game, having won 55% of his total duels and been dribbled past just 1.6 times per game across the whole of last season – as per Sofascore.
As the man tasked with shielding the back four, Casemiro has undoubtedly looked rather isolated of late even with Ten Hag deploying a midfield diamond at the weekend, hence why he could benefit from the belated arrival of Sofyan Amrabat, whom Neville suggested “could give him some help”.
What type of player is Sofyan Amrabat?
While the deadline day arrival – who signed on a season-long loan deal from Fiorentina – is yet to feature for his new club due to injury, the commanding midfielder is set to be ready for selection sooner rather than later, providing what would be a big boost for Ten Hag.
Whether that much-anticipated debut comes away to Bayern Munich or Burnley this week remains to be seen, although the £65k-per-week “machine” – as described by journalist Joe Crann – would allow for Casemiro to receive some extra defensive support in the centre of the park.
The former Club Brugge man is a true “monster” from his deep-lying berth, as per journalist Carlo Garganese, with that evident during the World Cup in Qatar as he memorably produced a stunning recovery tackle on France talisman, Kylian Mbappe.
The 27-year-old – who can also feature at full-back or at wing-back if needed – will also offer the benefit of his calm and composure nature in possession to help ensure that the ball is not so easily squandered, showcased by the fact that he ranks in the top 7% among his European peers for pass completion – as well as the top 16% for progressive passes per 90.
That is in stark contrast to Scott McTominay, for instance, who ranks in just the bottom 48% and the bottom 4% for those same two metrics, respectively, while even the classy Christian Eriksen ranks in just the top 48% for pass completion – albeit while ranking in the top 7% for progressive passes per 90.
Such quality both in and out of possession should ensure that Amrabat could prove something of a game-changer in United’s spiralling season, with both Ten Hag – and Casemiro – in need of someone to help steady the ship in the midfield ranks.
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