Casemiro has finally broken into the Manchester United lineup, and the rebuilding of Erik ten Hag can now begin. It took some time — for whatever reason — but the accomplished Brazilian is the midfielder that United needed, despite the fact that he was not their first port of call this summer.
Prior to Ten Hag’s appointment as manager, speculation from Old Trafford and elsewhere stated Declan Rice was the main target to address long-standing difficulties in central midfield. However, from the time Ten Hag touched down, he had just one person in mind: Frenkie de Jong.
Following a garishly public and ultimately fruitless chase for his signature, De Jong stayed put, and United had to bridge the gap in some way. Casemiro emerged as a plausible alternative when United discovered that Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid were willing to haggle over his €60 million transfer.
Real Madrid already had one eye on the future after winning another Champions League title, this time with Casemiro playing a major role and scooping up his fifth medal on a personal level. United must now utilize that as a model for its own market initiatives.
Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, both associated with United before moving to Madrid, have become stalwarts in the Spanish team’s midfield, and they could want to add Jude Bellingham when he goes on from Borussia Dortmund. But, in that pursuit, can United dare to dream?
Bellingham and De Jong will undoubtedly be on United’s list in search of a long-term partner for Casemiro, but the club will need alternative targets, as they did with the Brazilian last summer. That’s when Ten Hag and his Ajax contact book come in useful once more.
Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch refused interest from Manchester United in order to join Bayern. However, when it comes to the latter, Ten Hag may have already been given a transfer nudge in anticipation of a future reunion.
“Are you upset about starting zero games? To be completely honest, I am. I’d like to play, but the coach has always preferred other players. Even though it is difficult, I must accept it.”
Gravenberch recently expressed his dissatisfaction with his lack of game time since joining Bayern on a free transfer, despite the fact that the box-to-box Netherlands international has since been handed his first Champions League start amid competition from Leon Goretzka, Marcel Sabitzer, Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala, and others.
Bayern may argue that Gravenberch is a player for the future or that they are gradually integrating him. And, while 317 minutes out of a possible 1,260 isn’t precisely the isolation from the first team that Donny van de Beek has experienced at Old Trafford, Gravenberch may consider them if he wants to advance in his career.
Several variables will be considered, including Gravenberch’s Bayern contract, which runs until 2027. However, having signed him for free, Bayern has no need to recoup any investment in a player who won three Eredivisie titles at Ajax under Ten Hag.
He would undoubtedly attract a lot of attention if he wanted to leave Germany quickly after landing. It has to be worth at least a polite phone call next summer.