Manchester United’s summer business raised a few eyebrows, none more so than with the signing of 5’9″ central defender Lisandro Martinez.
He’s been a rock for the Red Devils this season, but another of the Dutchman’s early signings is now outshining him in Qatar.
Indeed, that arrival is Casemiro, who arrived in England after a distinguished career as the anchor of a Real Madrid team that accomplished incredible feats.
Such a fee raised a few eyebrows, with pundits accusing the United hierarchy of a “desperation” bid, despite the player himself remaining a world-class engine.
Casemiro has taken over the deep-lying midfield role for Brazil in place of Liverpool’s Fabinho, reaffirming his stature on the international stage and the weight that he carries in the eyes of his managers.
And such faith has been richly rewarded, with his assurance and unrivaled physicality allowing Brazil and the squad’s creative flair to forward, crushing the opposition with devastating effect.
After completing the lucrative four-year deal, United manager Erik ten Hag described the Brazilian juggernaut as “the cement between the stones,” with Casemiro coming off the back of a fifth Champions League triumph, defeating Liverpool in the final for the second time.
Casemiro, still only 30 years old, has been deployed in the defensive midfield slot, completing the gritty jobs that have allowed Toni Kroos and Luka Modric to dominate the center of the park with such supreme brilliance.
Casemiro’s position on the global stage has been cemented after appearing in 336 matches for Los Blancos, scoring 31 goals and providing 29 assists.
In Qatar, he has thrived; according to Sofascore, Casemiro has averaged a rating of 7.6 throughout the tournament, in which he has started all but one match.
The importance of his structured approach is rеvеɑlеd by his 84% pass success rate, 2.7 tackles per match, 1.0 clearances, and 2.0 interceptions.
His robust, daring exploits on the field allow the other players to flourish, and without him, there appears to be a veritable chasm in the Brazilian ranks, with teammates suffering from his absence, as evidenced by the 1-0 loss to Cameroon in the final group match, where the anchor was not risked with qualification already secured.
Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane dubbed him a “monster,” and the moniker is apt, with his ferocious and unflinching approach to his play being a key component in and of itself.
According to FBref, when compared to midfielders across Europe’s big five leagues, the £43m-rated ace ranks in the top 1% for blocks and aerials won, as well as the top 3% for clearances and the top 7% for tackles.
Such metrics provide a clear indication of why United paid such a high price for a player who was past his 30th birthday. He may have won it all in Spain, but he shows no signs of slowing down and could lead the Red Devils to glory in the coming years.