Casemiro - a football addict who can add balance to Man United, but will he leave Madrid?

Brazil midfielder mulling over United offer that dwarfs his Real Madrid contract

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Manchester United are trying to sign Brazilian midfielder Casemiro from Real Madrid.

The English club are believed to be prepared to pay around €70 million for one of the stars of Real Madrid’s recent success stories. The 63-cap Brazil international has been perfectly happy at Madrid, where he has an excellent relationship with manager Carlo Ancelotti, who considers him one of his main allies in the dressing room. Ancelotti even apologised to him for getting him wrong in his first spell in Madrid, when he loaned the player to Porto.

Casemiro, who moved to Madrid in 2013, has three years left on his Madrid contract - a figure sources tell The National amounts to €5 million-per-year after taxes for the 30-year-old. But it is up to Casemiro to get his head around the idea of his time at Madrid being over. United’s offer is believed to be substantially more than his current deal and his contract would run for four years.

Man-of-the-match in Madrid’s recent Uefa Super League success against Eintracht Frankfurt (Casemiro always starts his pre-season alone in Brazil with a trainer and physio), his club had no intention of selling him, but accept that their side is entering a new phase, with young French midfielders Eduardo Camavinga, 19, and Aurelien Tchouameni, 22, seen as the future in Casemiro’s midfield position.

Asked after last week’s Super Cup success if the arrival of Tchouameni for a fee that could grow to €100 million has stung Casemiro, Ancelotti, who has been affectionate with his Brazilian recently, said: “I have not asked him. The match wasn't complicated because he has watched the offensive transitions very well. Tchouameni is going to learn a lot and is going to improve a lot with Casemiro”.

Zinedine Zidane has a similarly high opinion of Casemiro and that’s why Madrid are reluctant to let legendary names go, but their departure is easier to explain to fans if the offer for them is significant and they are encouraged by how they have prospered after the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. They won the Champions League a year after those last two departed, and change is coming. Casemiro is at his best alongside Toni Kroos, 32, and Luca Modric, who turns 37 next month - the base in Madrid’s Bermuda triangle.

United have yet to contact Real Madrid, but the player and his agents are aware of United’s interest. They are not quashing it. It would be for the player to accept United’s offer and then tell Madrid not to demand a prohibitive figure to sell him, as Madrid did when Internazionale tried to sign Luca Modric five years ago. The National understands that Casemiro has yet to decide. One key factor is if Casemiro feels that he’s going to be a key starter for Madrid in the next two or three years, as he is now.

United have wanted a defensive midfielder all summer, and Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong was the No 1 target. But despite the two clubs agreeing a fee for the Dutch midfielder the 25-year-old has shown no inclination to join United and has always preferred to stay at Barca. United switched attention to the Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot but were put off by his excessive wage demands where he wanted to be paid more than any other player apart from Ronaldo. That would have been negated by a lower transfer fee since Rabiot is out of contract next year.

Now, Casemiro is the subject of United’s attention. The player, an international colleague of United midfielder Fred, is obsessed by tactics and self-improvement. He studies his own game using Wyscout, analysing his performances in detail. He studied Kylian Mbappe ahead of a game against Paris Saint-Germain and, in the actual match, correctly anticipated what he was going to do. He talks to Ancelotti about tactics. Their wives watch Madrid games together at the Bernabéu.

Real Madrid's head coach Carlo Ancelotti speaks with Casemiro after winning the Uefa Super Cup final on August 10, 2022. AP Photo

“Case is already a coach,” a friend of the player told El Pais recently. “Ancelotti sees the Brazilian as the type of footballer he was, with great effort for the team accompanied by technical quality.”

Casemiro is a football addict, a man who cut short his own family holiday in Florida because he was concerned after Madrid lost a friendly against Atletico when he was supposed to be resting after winning the Copa America with Brazil. He’s often the first player to turn up to Madrid’s Valdebebas training ground and the last to leave. He’s reached the top for several reasons and one is his very Brazilian diet of feijoada (beans with salted pork), along with by rice and oranges. Rodrygo, his compatriot at Madrid, thinks Casemiro helped change the image of Brazilian footballers being lazy.

He’s slower than he was but considered more intelligent as a player. A key player for Madrid, Casemiro has won five Champions Leagues with Madrid, three Spanish league titles, one Copa del Rey, two Uefa Super Cups and three Fifa World Club Cups.

United felt they were played by some of Madrid’s stars in past transfer windows, such as when Ramos’ representatives contacted the club saying he was available only to use United’s interest as a ploy in negotiations with Paris Saint-Germain. But in this case, United have made the approach for a player they think will bring balance. Whether he wants to remains to be seen.

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Updated: August 18, 2022, 4:41 AM
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